Moore v. State

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HEADNOTE: Charles Moore, Jr. v. State, No. 27, September Term, 2009. CRIMINAL LAW - VOIR DIRE - DEFENSE-WITNESS QUESTION Any juror who would give one witness s testimony greater weight than another may be prejudiced, and if so w ould have the effect o f jeopardiz ing a defe ndant s righ t to a fair and impartial trial. This sort of prejudgment bias is neither exclusively status nor affiliationbased, and so m ay exist with reg ard to non -official (no n-police) w itnesses called by the State as well as official (police) witnesses, with an identical effect on the fair trial right. It follows, therefore, that when the Defense-Witness question is requested during voir dire examination, and the re are de fense w itnesses to be ca lled, the q uestion is requir ed. In the Circu it Court for F rederick C ounty Case No. 10-K-05-037507 IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND No. 27 September Term, 2009 CHARLES F. MOORE, JR. v. STATE OF MARYLAND Bell, C.J. Harrell Battaglia Greene Murphy Adkins Barbera, JJ. Opinion by Bell, C. J. Murphy, J., Concurs. Filed: February 26, 2010 This case presents the issue of whether a Defense Witness questio n is man datory i.e., whether a trial court [must] ask potential jurors on voir dire whether they would te nd to view the testimony of witnesses called by the defense with more skepticism than that of witnesses called by the State, merely because they were called by the defense[ .] In Bowie v. State, having conclude d that it is nece ssary to determine whether witnesses called by the State will start with a presumption of credibility simply because of the positions occupied rather than the facts of the case, this Court held that the trial court erred w hen it refuse d to ask the Defense-Witness question requested by the defendant in an attempt to determine whether any venireperson was so inclined. 32 4 Md . 1, 10, 59 5 A.2d 448, 45 2 (199 1). We now shall hold tha t Bowie controls the resolution o f this case, an d, consequ ently, that the trial court erred when it failed, upon the defendant s reque st, to ask the Defense-Witness question during voir dire. This holding is consistent with the well settled principle that questions designed to, and that w ill, uncover b ias that wou ld underm ine a defen dant s right to a fair trial are mandatory and, thus, must, if requested, be asked on voir dire. I. Just before midnight, on May 20, 2005, Charles F. Moore Jr., ( the petitioner ) and a group of two men and two women were in a parking lo t near Cou ntry Hills Apa rtments ( Country Hills ) in Frederick, Maryland. The petitioner was wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey with the number 12. He and his companions were preparing to leave in the petitioner s Lincoln Towncar when a Ford Taurus, driven by Alicia Bowens ( Bowens ) and in which Romell Allen ( Allen ), Reginald Cobb ( Cobb ), and Devon Henderson ( Henderson ) were passengers, drove by. Subsequ ently, the passengers in the Taurus and the petitioner s gro up becam e embroile d in a verba l and possib ly physical exchange. Although each group initially departed, gunshots soon followed and Allen was hit and serious ly woun ded. Having been identified by witnesses as the shooter, on June 20, 2005, the petitioner was indicted in the Circuit C ourt for Fre derick Co unty, Marylan d. In the indictment, he was charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder, five coun ts of first degr ee assault, five counts of use of a handgun in commission of a crime of violence, five counts of reckless endange rment, and one c ount of wearing, carrying and transporting a handgun. The petition er plead ed not g uilty and p rayed a ju ry trial. Before jury selection, the petitioner s counsel submitted a list of the questions he requested the court to ask the venire on voir dire. Among the questions were the following: 21. Would any prospective juror be more likely to believe a witness for the prosecution merely because he or she is a prosecution witness? 22. Would any prospective juror tend to view the testimony of a witness called by the defense with more skepticism than witnesses called by the State, merely because they were called by the defense? 23. Would any prospective juror be more or less likely to believe a police officer than a civilian witness, solely because he or she is a police officer? While all three ques tions purported to be designed to uncover juror bias, the former two specifically were directed at uncovering bias against the witnesses for the defense. The court agreed that question 23 was a proper voir dire question and should be asked. 2 Over defense counsel s objection, however, the court declined to ask either question 21 or 22, ruling: THE COURT: 21 and 22, I believe is also covered g enerically. We talk about it in 23 as to believe the testimony. I don t like to stress prosecution ove r are less likely to believe defense witness because that s again covered, I believe, in other instructio ns. During the petitioner s three-day jury trial, the State called fifteen (15) witnesses including Allen, the victim, Bowens and Henderson, the two women in the Taurus, M ichelle Atwood, an alleged eyewitness and Sergeant Wayne Trapp ( Sgt. Trapp ), the officer who apprehended the petitioner. Sgt. Trapp, a member of the Frederick Police Department s Drug Enforcement unit, was one of several such members of that unit doing undercover surveillance at Cou nty Hills at the time of the s hootin g. Sgt. Trapp testified that he saw the petitioner right in the middle of the parking lot, right around here, and he was pointing at another group of people somewhere over here. I was kind of directly behind him. He was crouched, holding the handgun with two hands, firing shots at some individuals . . .. Sgt. Trapp testified that he called for back-up and pursued the shooter on foot. The chase ended, he said, when a police car pulled in front of the petitioner. Each of the other witnesses gave varying accounts of what happened. On one thing they all agreed, each witness s testimony implicated the petitioner as the shooter. The petitioner testified on his own behalf and asserted his innocence. Indeed, the petitioner maintained his innocence throughout the trial. Responding to Sgt. Trapp, he stated 3 that he wen t to the groun d in an effort to comply with the police officers requ est to put his arms up, after which the officers handcuffed him and took him into custody. The petitioner testified further that he was surprised to learn he was under arrest because he did not have a gun and was not the shooter. The petitioner also called as a witness a bystander who stated he observed a man with a bandana running across the street . . . and duck[ing] down behind [his] car. The jury acquitted the petitioner of three counts of first degree assault and the related counts of use of a hand gun in the comm ission of a crime of violen ce. It convicted him of two counts of attempted first degree murder, two cou nts of first de gree assau lt, two coun ts of use of a handgun in commission of a crime of violence, fiv e counts o f reckless en dangerm ent, and one count of wearing, carrying and transporting a handgun. His motion for new tria l having been den ied, the petition er was sen tenced to tw enty years (20) fo r the reckless endangerment counts, and the use of handgun counts, to be served consecutively with two concurrent life sen tences f or the att empte d murd er coun ts. On app eal, the Court of Special Appea ls affirmed the petitioner s conviction, after which this Court granted the petitioner s petition for wr it of certi orari, Charles F. Moore, Jr. v. State of Maryland, __ Md. ___, ___ A.2d __ (2009), to address this important issue. II. The principles governing voir dire are well-established. Wright v. S tate, ___ Md. ___. ____, 983 A.2 d 519, 52 1-522, 20 09 Md . Lexis 840 , *4-5 (200 9); Stewart v . State, 399 Md. 4 146, 158-160, 923 A.2d 44, 51-52 (2007); Curtin v. Sta te, 393 Md. 593, 600-607, 903 A.2d 922, 926-930 (2006); Langley v. State, 281 Md. 337, 340-342, 378 A.2d 1338, 1339-1340 (1977); Casey v. Roman Catholic Archbish op of Baltimore , 217 M d. 595, 605-606, 143 A.2d 62 7, 631 (19 58). This C ourt in Dingle v. S tate, explained: "Voir dire, the process by which prospective jurors are examined to determine whether cause for disqualification exists, see Boyd v. State, 341 Md. 431, 435, 671 A.2d 3 3, 35 (1996), is the mechanism whereby the right to a fair and impartial jury, guaranteed by Art. 21 of the Maryland Dec laration of R ights, ¦ see Grogg v. State, 231 Md. 530, 532, 191 A.2d 435, 436 (1963), is given substance. See Hill v. State, 339 Md. 275, 280 , 661 A.2d 116 4, 1166 (1995); Bedford v. State, 317 Md. 659, 670, 566 A.2d 111, 116 (1989).The overarching purpose of voir dire in a c riminal case is to ensure a fair and impartial jury. See Boyd , 341 Md. 431, 435, 671 A.2d 33, 35 (1996 ); Hill, 339 Md. 275, 279 , 661 A.2d 1164, 11 66 (1995 ); Davis v. State, 333 Md. 27, 34, 633 A.2d 86 7, 871 (19 93); Bedford, 317 Md. 659, 670, 566 A.2d 111, 117 (1989); Casey v. Roman Catholic Archbishop, 217 Md. 595, 605, 143 A.2d 627, 631 (195 8); Adams v. State, 200 Md. 1 33, 140 , 88 A.2 d 556, 5 59 (19 52). 361 Md. 1, 9, 759 A.2d 81 9, 823 (20 00); see State v. Thomas, 369 Md. 202, 206-207, 798 A.2d 566, 568-569 (2 002). In the absence of a statute or rule prescribing the questions to be asked of the venirepersons during the examination, the subject is left largely to the sound discretion of the court in each particular case. Corens v . State, 185 Md. 561, 564, 45 A.2d 340, 343 (1946); see also Langley, 281 Md. at 341, 378 A.2d at 1340. Thus, the broad rule [is] that any circumstances which may reasonab ly be regarded as rendering a person unfitted for jury service may be made the subject of questions and a challenge fo r cause. In other word s, an examination of a prospective juror on his voir dire is proper as lo ng as it is con ducted strictly within the right to discover the state of mind of the juror in respect to the matter in hand or any collateral matter reasonably liable to unduly influence him. 5 Corens, 185 Md. at 564, 45 A.2d at 343. The court, however, must adapt the questions to the particular circumstance or facts of th e case, the ultim ate goal, of c ourse, being to obtain jurors who w ill be im partial an d unbia sed. Dingle, 361 Md. at 9, 759 A.2d at 824 (quoting Waters v. State, 51 Md. 430, 436 (1879)). These tenets guide our discussion a nd the resu lt. III. Langley provides context for the Bowie v. State, 324 Md. 1, 595 A.2d 448 (1991) decision, which, along with the Langle y analysis and the standard emanating from that analysis, logically, will guide our discussion in this case. At first glanc e the holdin g in Langley may be viewed, and inte rpreted as, limited to witn esses w ho are p olice of ficers. A brief recitation of the facts and review of the Court s analysis demonstrate that it has a broade r applica tion. Lawrence Langley was arrested for stealing a taxicab and subsequently charged with, and tried fo r, robbe ry. Langley, 281 Md. at 338, 378 A.2d at 1338-39. During jury selection, the trial judge refused to ask the f ollowing question o f the venire: Is there anyone here who would give more credit to the testimony of a police officer over that of a civilian, merely because of this status as a police officer? Id. at 338, 378 A.2d at 1338. Langley was convicted and he appea led. Id. at 338, 378 A.2d at 1338. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed his convic tion. Id. This Court, how ever, reversed the judgm ent of that court and remanded the case for the Circuit Court to conduct a new tri al. Id. at 349, 3 78 A.2 d at 134 4. In considering the matter, the Langley Court 6 began its analysis, as we have done in this case, by setting out the principles which underg ird voir dire. Id. at 340- 2, 378 A .2d at 13 39-40 . Of particu lar importan ce to this discussion, the Court em phasized: "[P]arties to an action triable before a jury have a right to have questions propounded to prospective jurors on their voir dire, which are directed to a specific cause for disqualification, and failure to allow such questions is an abuse of discretion con stituting reversible error. (emphasis om itted). Id. at 341-342, 378 A.2d at 1340, (quoting Casey, 217 Md. at 605, 143 A.2d at 631). The questio ns, of c ourse, m ust be re levant to the case . Id. at 342, 3 78 A.2 d at 134 0. Although a case of f irst impression at the time in M aryland, to conclude that the court s refusal to ask the requested voir dire questions was error, the Court considered similar cases from other jurisdictions. These cases revealed that there pre-existed strong support for a trial court s inquiry, during voir dire, into whether a venireperson would give more weight to the testimony of a police officer. In Sellers v. United States, for example, a narcotics case, the appellate court held that the trial court erred in declining to make inquiry on voir dire as to whether any of the pro spective juro rs were inc lined to give more weight to the testimony of a police officer merely because he was a police than any other witness in the case. Langley, 281 Md. a t 342, 37 8 A.2d 1341 ( quotin g, Sellers, 271 F.2d 475, 476 (D.C. Cir. 1 959); see also Chavez v. United States, 258 F.2d 816, 81 9 (10th Cir. 1958) (statin g a defe ndant can not be fairly tried by a juror who would be inclined to give unqua lified cre dence to a law enforc emen t office r simply b ecause he is an office r. ). But the cases also revealed that their concern and, therefore, their support was not 7 directed only to situations where the witness was a police officer, that their reach was not nearly so n arrow . Faced with the issue again, under very similar circumstances, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in Brown v. United States, 338 F.2d 543 (19 64), heavily relied on its previous decision in Sellers. It opined: The circumstances of the Sellers case are very similar and compel reversal here; moreover, we do not read Sellers as having been narrowly decided. We construe that case as establishing that when important testimony is anticipated from certain categories of witness, whose official or semi-official status is such that a juror migh t reasonably be more, or less , inclined to cre dit their testim ony, a query as to w hether a juro r would have such an inclination is not only app ropriate but sho uld be g iven if r equest ed. *** We hold that under the Sellers case failure to inquire of the jury panel as requested regarding possible predilections concerning police testimony was reversible error in this case. We emphasize that independent of the scope of the requested query, the phrasing of the court's inquiry should include whether any juror would tend to give either more or less credence because of the o ccupa tion or c ategory o f the pro spectiv e witne ss. Brown, 338 F.2d at 545 (em phasis add ed); see also United S tates v. Ma rtin 507 F.2d 428 (7th Cir 1974); United States v. Brewer, 427 F.2d 409, 410 (10th Cir. 1970). Martin did not concern police officers at all. Rather, it was a case concerning failure to file taxes, where at issue was the propriety of the trial court s refusal to inquire into whether the venire would favor the testimony of a government agent over other witnes ses. Martin, 507 F.2d at 429. The Court held that inquiry was required; it was necessary to inquire as to whether a venireperson felt that because a witness is a 8 Govern ment Ag ent that his testim ony is therefore entitled to mo re weigh t than one w ho is not an agent? Id. at 429, 432 , n. 6. As the c ourt put it: Of the four witnesses called by the United States, three were employees of government agencies. Thus, it was particularly important for the defendant to know of any prejudices the jurors may have had about the Government or about the credibility of government agents. Specifically, we think question 9 concer ning the w eigh t that wou ld be give n a government a gent's testimony was particularly important. See Chavez v. United States, 258 F.2d 816, 81 9 (10th Cir. 195 8). Id. at 432. Also following and relying on Brown, the court in Commonwealth v. Futch, 469 Pa. 422, 366 A.2d 246 (Pa. 1976), reached the same conclusion with regard to prison guards. A ddressing th e issue, the co urt stated: The crux of the case at bar is the credibility of the prison guards' testimony contrasted to the credibility of th e prison inm ates' testimony. O n these fac ts a juror who would believe the testimony of a prison guard simply because of his official status would be subject to disqualification for cause. App ellan t has a right to prob e for this b ias si nce i t bea rs on a juror's objectiv ity with res pect to th e most c ritical asp ect of th e case. See United States v. Napoleone, 349 F.2d 350 (3d Cir. 1965). *** The rationale underlying Brown v. United States, supra, is that althoug h it is likely that jurors m ight believe te stimony of law enforcem ent officials s olely by virtue of the group's off icial status, it is unrea sonable for them to do so because official status is no guarantee of trustworthiness. With regard to prison inmates, it is just as likely that jurors might attach less credit to their te stimony, and it is just as unreasonable for them to do so bec ause prior c riminal activity is not necess arily a reliable indicator of untrustworthiness. On the facts of this case a juror who would disbelieve the testim ony of a priso n inmate sim ply because of his status as a prison inmate would be subject to disqualification for cause. Id. at 430- 31. (footn otes om itted). 9 After reviewing these cases from its sister jurisdictions and conducting its own analysis, the Langley Court con cluded: A juror who states on voir dire that he would give more credit to the testimony of police officers than to other persons has prejudged an issue of credibility in the case. R egardless o f his efforts to be impa rtial, a part of his method for resolving controverted issues will be to give greater weight to the version of the prosecution, largely because of the official status of the witness. The argument by the State that police officers are entitled to grea ter credibility because they have less in terest in the ou tcome of the case is not sufficient to overcome such an objection. As Judge H orney pointe d out for the Court in Casey v. Ro man Ca tholic Arch., 217 Md. 595, 607, a party is entitled to a jury free of all disqualifying bias or prejudice without exception, and not merely a jury free of bias or prejudice of a gene ral or abstract n ature. Acc ordingly, we h old that in a case such as this, where a principal part of the State's evidence is testimony of a police officer diametrically opposed to that of a defendant, it is prejudicial error to fail to propound a question such as that requested in this case. Howeve r, in the words of Brown, we suggest that the phrasing of the court's inquiry should include whether any juror would tend to give either more or less credence [merely] because of the occupation or category of the prospective witness. Langley, 281 Md. at 348-349, 378 A.2d at 1344 (emphasis added). Thus, it is apparent that the Langley Court, from the outset, understood that, although it was addressing police officer credibility and, thus, some of the cases were not directly on point, the underlying issue of prejudgment encompassed more than police officers, that many more occupations and categories p otentially were implicated. To be sure, it was the nature of the issue and who the witnesses were that would determine which questions, about which occupations and categories, had to be asked to uncover prejudicial or disqualifying bias. The principle s pre scrib ed an d enunciated by Langley and embodied in its holding 10 cannot be, as we have seen, so narrowly interpreted or applied to police officers. At its core, the Langley Court s ho lding is that it is grounds for disqualification for a juror to presume that one witness is more credible than another simply because of that witness s status or affiliation with the government. Langley, 281 Md. at 1344, 378 A.2d at 349. Such juror bias, the Court re asoned, ad versely impacts the defendant s ability to obtain a fair and impartial trial. See Id. at 340, 378 A .2d at 13 39-40 . In reach ing its ho lding, Langley reiterated the well settled proposition that voir dire is a process during which the parties at interest, through examination of the v enireperso ns, seek to u ncover an y bias that a venireperson might harbor. 281 Md. 348-49, 378 A.2d 1343-44. To achieve that result, to be able to do so, any proposed question related to the facts of the case, designed to uncover such bias, is directed to a specific cause for disqualification and, therefore, must be asked. Id. at 341-2, 378 A.2d. at 1340 (quoting Casey v. Roman Catholic Archbishop, 217 Md. 595, 605, 143 A.2 d 627, 63 1 (1958) ( Parties to an action triable before a jury have a right to have questions propounded to prospective jurors on their voir dire, which are directed to a s pecific cause for disqualification, and failure to allow such questions is an abuse of discretion constituting reversible error. )(citation and emphasis omitted). It is true, in Lan gley, the issue of juror bias because o f prejudgm ent was sp ecific to polic e officers: Ac cord ingly, we hold that in a case such as this, where a principal part of the State's evidence is testimony of a police off icer diametric ally opposed to that of a defend ant, it is prejudicial error to fail to propound a question such as that requested in this case. Id. at 349, 378 A.2d at 1344. It is also true that the bias inherent in prejudgment is not unique 11 to police of fice rs, a f act emph asized by Brown, a case on which Langley particularly relied. Thus Langley, appropriately observed and instructed: Howev er, in the words of Brown, we s uggest th at th e phrasin g of the c ourt's inquiry should inc lude wh ether any juror w ould tend to give either more or less credence [merely] because of the occu patio n or c ateg ory of the prospective witness. " (emphasis in Brown). Id. (emphasis added ) Bowie is simply an exp lication and application of the standard acknowledged and even enforced in Langley. In that regard, it articulated expressly that the issue suggested by the police witness question is broader than those witnesses and, therefore, has a relevance beyond cases in volvin g police office rs. In Bowie , the defenda nt, Damon Alejandro-Christopher Bowie, and four accomplices, committed an armed robbery, which resulted in two fatalities and injuries to several other persons. Bowie , 324 Md. at 4, 5-6, 595 A.2d at 449, 451. Bow ie was co nvic ted b y a jury in the Circuit Co urt for Princ e Georg e s Coun ty of two counts of: first degree m urder; attempted murder; assault with intent to murder; malicious shooting; and robbery with a deadly weapon. Id. at 4, 595 A.2d at 449. Following a capital sentencing proceeding, Bowie was sentenced to death for each of the first-degree murd er convictions and to 12 0 years of incarceration as consequence of the other convictions. Id. Bowie raised 12 issu es on app eal, four of which the Court considered.1 One of those fou r issues - D id the trial court e rr in 1 The four issues the Bowie Court add ressed w ere: 1. Did the trial court err in refusing to propound voir dire questions designed (continued...) 12 refusing to propound voir dire questions designed to identify jurors who would give m ore weight to the testimony of police officers than civilians or to State's witnesses and defense witnesses?, id. at 5, 595 A.2d a t 450 - is o f particu lar relev ance to this case . Arguing that they were encompassed within the broad voir dire question that this Court granted certiorari to consider, Bowie asked that the trial court include the following three questions in the voir dire examina tion: 1. Many of the State's witnesses will be police officers. Do you believe that a police off icer will tell the tru th merely beca use he or sh e is a police officer? 2. Would any of you be mor e or less likely to believe a police officer than a civilian witness, solely because he or she is a police officer? 3. Would an y of you tend to view the testimony of witnesses called by the Defense with mo re skepticism than witne sses called b y the State, merely because they were called by the Defense? Bowie, 324 M d. at 6, 59 5 A.2d at 450. O ver def ense co unsel s objectio n, the trial court declined to include or incorporate those questions. In its case, the S tate called several police officers to testify in their official capacity and the victims, all but one of whom . . . had no official position. Id. at 7, 595 A.2d at 451. Although Bowie did not testify on his own 1 (...continued) to identify jurors who would give more weight to the testimony of police officers than civilians or to State's witnesses and defense witnesses? 2. Did the trial co urt err in refusing to propound a requested voir dire question relating to the possible racial bias of the prospective jurors? 3. Did the trial co urt condu ct an inadequate jury selection pro cedure w ith resp ect to the v iews of the prosp ectiv e jurors o n the deat h penalty? 4. Did the trial court err in its sentencing-phase instructions to the jury? Bowie v. State, 324 M d. 1, 5, 59 5 A.2d 448, 45 0 (199 1). 13 behalf, he called two witnesses - a custodian for the records of the hospital where one of the victims had be en atten ded, id, and a police off icer, w ho testified with regard to the defen dant s lin e-up. Id. On appeal, Bo wie argu ed that the trial court s refusal to ask the three questions he proposed was prejudicial error, necessitating reversal and remand for a new trial. Id. at 6, 595 A.2d at 450. This Court agreed, holding that the trial court erred in refusing to address in voir dire the issue raised by the three questions proposed by appellant and that the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. at 11, 595 A.2d at 453. To reach that result, the Bowie Court relied on Langley v. State, 281 Md. 337 , 378 A.2d 133 8 (1977), and, indeed, stated that the outcome of the case and its hold ing w ere d ictated by Langley. Bowie , 324 Md. at 8, 595 A.2d at 451. At the heart of the issues presented in Langley, Bowie and the case at bar is whether it is appropria te for a juror to give credence to a witness simply because o f that witness s occu pation, or status , or cate gory, or affilia tion. Langley, 281 Md. at 349, 378 A.2d 1338, 1344. In Lan gley, in the context of police officer testimony, we first held that it was not. The requested voir dire questions in Bowie were of both varieties, occupational, or status-based, inquiring about preferences for police officer testimony, and categorical, or affiliational, inquiring whether the venire preferred the testimony of witnesses testifying for one side as opposed to the o ther. In Bowie , we recognized, as Langley had done, albeit more generall y, that favoring a witness o n the basis of that witness s ca tegory or affiliation poses 14 the same threat to the defendant s right to a fair and impartial trial as favoring a witness on the basis of occupation o r status; in other words, we w ere clear, there is not just one way that prejudgment could m anifest . Bowie , 324 Md. at 8-9, 595 A.2d 451. On this point, we not only were clear, but we were emphatic: having identified the dichotomies the voir dire questions required to be considered - (1) those wh o would believe po lice officers, sim ply because they were police officers, and (2 ) those who w ould prefer the te stimony of Sta te's witnesses o ver defen se witnesse s - we no ted that [i]n the first category, a further dichotomy is possible, between those who would simply believe police officers by virtue of the position w ithout regard to testimony from anyone else and those wh o would believe th e police officers in com parison to civilian witnes ses. Id. at 7-8, 595 A.2d 451. The Bowie Court, in sh ort, recogniz ed that preju dgment b ias is neither exclusively status nor affiliation-based, that either or both could exist in a given case, with an identical effect on the fair trial right. It also stated explicitly what this Court s jurisprudence earlier had recognized, that status-based bias may manifest in situations other than those involving police officers, but may also exist with regard to non-official (nonpolice) witnesses called by the State. Such bias may be harbored toward or against such witnesses. This is so, we said, because, notwithstanding whether the witness is official or non-official, the effect of bias is identical to those, as made clear in Langley, applicable to police officers. The same analysis was applied to, and the identical conclusion drawn as to, bias based o n the ca tegory or a ffiliation of the w itness. A ny juror, Bowie concluded, who would give one witness s testimony greater weight than another may be prejudiced, because 15 he or she has prejudged the case, and that jeopardizes a defendant s right to a fair and impartia l trial. Maryland law has m ade clear tha t if a question is directed to a specific cause for disqualification then the question must be asked and failure to do so is an abuse of discretio n. See Casey, 217 Md. at 605, 143 A.2d at 631. At issue in Bowie , and in Langley before it, was whether the voir dire question rejected by the trial judge was one designed, and intended, to uncover bias, which, if overlooked, might adversely impact the defendant s right to a fair and impartial trial. The Bowie Court con cluded tha t the question s did, in fact, [fall] within the sub jects of inquiry. Bowie , 324 Md. at 8, 59 5 A.2d at 451 . Spe cific ally, as to the Defe nse W itness qu estion, albeit in the context of the harmless error analysis, we observed: Moreove r, to the extent that the State relies upon non-official witness testimony or the other police w itnes ses to corr oborate M cDa niels ' testim ony, it overlooks question No. 3. That question is designed to discover those who would give greater weight to the testimony of the witnesses whom the State calls. That would include both the non-official witnesses, i.e. the victims and accom plice, as w ell as the non-f act polic e witne sses. Id. at 11, 595 A.2d at 452-53. Given the need to determine whether witnesses called by the State will start with a presumption of credibility simply because of the positions occupied rather than the facts of the case, id. at 10, 595 A.2d at 452, the Bowie Court held, relying on what the Langley Court had done 14 years before, that the trial court erred in refusing to address in voir dire the issue raised by the three questions proposed. Id. at 11, 595 A.2d at 453. 16 It is, of course, the case, that consistent with case law, the questions proposed must relate to uncoverin g bias that could arise, given the facts of the case. Accordingly, as a prerequisite to asking the question, there must be a qualifying witness, one, who, because of occupation or category, may be favored, or disfavored, simply on the basis of that status or affiliation. Where, therefore, no police or other official witnesses will be called by the State, the occupational, or status, question need not be asked. On the other hand, if the case is one in which one or more police or official witnesses will be called to testify, the occupational witness question(s) must be ask ed, if requested. Similarly, if there are no defense witnesses, there will be no need f or a Defense-Witness question. Where, however, there will be one or more defense w itnesses, then it follows that the Defense-Witness question must be asked. Because the State always has the burden of proof and there usually will be State s witnesses, it seems clea r, that in such cases, the State-Witness question always is also required. Of course, where there are defense and State witnesses, including police testimony, then the questions sanctioned in Bowie should be asked. The goal being to uncover any bias a venireperson might have towards a witness, an inquiry spanning c ategory and sta tus is necess ary, whe re requ ested. Bowie , therefore, did no more than reiterate the teachings of Langley and apply them. As we ha ve seen , Langley accepted that, while questions related to a witness s occupation apply to police officers, their reach is not so narrow so as only to include police officers. Bowie merely reiterated, perhaps more expressly and pointedly, wh at Langley itself said, that 17 any juror who, on the basis of status-based or party-based reasons, favors one witness over other witnesses is biased and should be disqua lified. Bowie , 324 Md at 11, 595 A.2d at 45253. The State argues that, because neither Curtin v. State, 393 Md. 593, 903 A.2d 922 (2006), nor Stewart v . State, 399 M d.146, 9 23 A.2 d 44 (2 007), w hich adopted the Curtin formulation, in their lis ting of m andatory voir dire inquiries, cites Bowie as sanctioning any one of those inquiries and the Defense-Witness question is not one of the inqu iries expressly mentioned, Bowie has been overruled or, in the alternative, the Defense-Witness question is not one o f the man datory inquiries. T his Court d eclines to acc ept either arg ument. To be sure, this Court in Curtin did state that there are several areas of inquiry which, if reasonab ly related to the cas e before th e court, a trial judge must ask the venire. In that case, we s aid: "These areas are: race, ethnicity, or cultural heritage , Hernan dez v. State , 357 Md. 204, 232, 742 A.2d 952, 967 (1999) ( Where a voir dire question has been properly requested and directed to bias against the accused's race, ethnicity, or cultural heritage, the trial court ordinarily will be required to propound such a question. ), religious b ias, Casey [v. Roman Catholic Arch., 217 Md. 595, 607, 143 A.2d 627, 632 (1958)] ( [I]f the religious affiliation of a juror might reasonab ly prevent him from arrivin g at a fair and impartial verdict in a particular case because of the nature of the c ase, the p arties are entitled to . . . have the court discov er them. ); in ca pital cases, the a bility of a juror to convict based upon circumstantial evidence, Corens [v. State, 185 Md. 561, 564, 45 A.2d 340, 344 (1946)] ( We . . . hold that the State h as the right to challenge a juror in a capital case on the ground that he would not be willing to convict on circumstantial evidence. ), and placement of undue weight on police officer c redibility, Langley v. S tate, 281 Md. 337, 349, 378 A.2d 1338, 1344 (1977) ( [W]e hold that in a case such as this, where a principal part of the State's evidence is testimony of a police officer d iametrically opp osed to 18 that of a defendant, it is prejudicial error to fail to propound a question such as. . . whether any juror wo uld tend to give either mo re or less crede nce . . . [to a police o fficer]. ); violatio ns of n arcotics law, [State v. Thomas, 369 Md. 202, 214, 798 A.2d 566, 573 (2002)], (holding that trial judge abused his discretion in failing to ask question whether any jurors harbored strong feelings towards the violation of narcotics laws where defendant was charged with the possession and distribu tion of a co ntrolled dan gerous su bstance); strong emotional feelings with regards to alleged sexual assault against a minor, Sweet [v. State, 371 Md. 1, 10, 806 A.2d 265, 271 (2002)] (holding that trial court abused its discretion in refusing to ask whether the charges of second degree assault and third degree sexual offense against a minor stirred up such strong emotional feelings that it wo uld affect the venirem en's impartiality); cf. Landon v. Zorn, 389 Md. 206, 222, 884 A.2d 142, 151 (2005) (holding that trial judge did not abuse his discretion in refusing to ask proposed voir dire question regarding bias against plaintiffs in personal injury and medical malpractice cases because an affirmative answer to the proposed question would not constitute grounds for disqualification for cause )." Stewart, 399 Md.at 162, n.5, 923 A.2d at 53, n.5 , citing to and adopting the Curtin, 393 Md. at 609-610, n.8, 903 A.2d at 932, n.8, formulation. The question of wh ether Bowie has been overruled can be answered simply - it has not been, neither sub silentio nor by virtue of a subsequent case in which the issue was raised and the Court s o ordered . As to the latter , there clearly has been no such c ase and the State does not contend otherw ise. With regard to the form er, that Bowie was not c ited b y Curtin and Stewart is not dispositive. This Court is not in the habit of overruling cases without stating that it intends to do so, and it is hardly conceivable that it woul d, without mentioning the fact, overrule so recent and important a case. Hall v. Gradwohl,113 Md. 293, 301, 77 A. 480, 482 (1910); see also id. at 302, 77 A. at 482-483. ( It is stated in the motion that the failure of the Court in this case to notice the decision of Cook v. Councilman, above quoted, 19 has [incon sistencie s] in two related c ases. ... We will merely say that the two cases were not identical, as asserted by the appellees; that the case of Cook v. Councilman, supra, was not overruled, nor was it intended to be overruled, and that nothing has been said in the opinion in this case in conflict with the familiar rule announced in that case. ). Indeed, when this Court intends to overrule a case it tends to do so exp licitl y see Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Schwing, 351 Md. 178, 180, 717 A.2d 91 9, 919 (19 98) ( To reach that res ult, we shall revisit and overrule our holding in Waskiewicz v. General Motors Co rp., 342 Md. 699, 67 9 A.2d 1094 ( 1996) . ). Likewise, when th e Court de clines to ove rrule a particu lar case after its v iability is called into question, it also makes the declination clear. See Pye v. State, 397 Md. 626, 635, 919 A.2d 632, 637 (2007) ( Thus Frazier, which w e decline to overrule, is controlling ); Conteh v. Conteh, 392 Md. 436, 438, 897 A.2d 810, 811 (2006) ( For the reasons hereafter set forth, we decline to overrule Lookingbill, and we s hall r ever se the tria l cou rt's judgment. ); Plein v. DOL, Licensing & Reg., 369 Md. 421, 438, 800 A.2d 757, 768 (2002) ( A ccor ding ly, although not the exact situation addressed in Jones and Williams, we believe this case falls under that rule and, so, we will decline the parties' invitation to overrule Total Audio-Visual. ); Jekofsky v. State Roads Com., 264 M d. 471, 4 72, 473 , 287 A.2d 40, 41, (1972) ( The ap pellant, Charles S. Jekofsky, who was the plaintiff below, urges upon us that we should now overrule our prior holdings su staining the d octrine of so vereign im munity in Maryland . . . . We fully considered both these attacks and our prior decisions in Godw in v. 20 County Comm issioners of S t. Mary's Cou nty, 256 Md. 326, 260 A.2d 295 (1970) in which we declined to overrule ou r prior decisio ns sustaining the doctrine . ); Joseph v. B ozzuto Mgm t. Co., 173 Md. A pp. 305, 345 (200 7) ( It is inconceivable that the opinion, otherwise so up-front about its impact on existing law, would have presumed to overrule 70 years of well established Maryland law without so much as mentioning the fact and without giving any reasons for so tecto nic a sh ift. If the C ourt, sub silentio, had undertaken to do any such thing, it is equally inconceivable that the close scrutiny of dissenting Judges Raker and Wilner would have failed to notice or comment upon so seismic an upheaval. Doctrin al earthquakes simply do no t occur sub silentio, and no ne occ urred in that case . ). We are satisfied that had this Court intended to overrule Bowie , it would have expressly done so, consistent with past practices and certainly for the purpose of providing guidance to the legal community on this issue. In any event, the mere failure of a case to be cited in a subsequent opinion, even if the opinion addresses the very proposition for which the non-cited case stands, is not, and has never been, a basis for declaring an otherwise viable case o verruled. A rule to the con trary would place an o nerous, if not impossible, burden on appellate co urts. More over, it wou ld give to those courts a power they do not now have. As important, it could leave the question of the viab ility of a pre ceden t, and the determ ination o f its long evity, largely to fortuity; whether, by inadve rtence o r design , subsequent courts, and not the litigants, will decide whether a precedent survives. Such a rule, in addition, contradicts and nega tes prac tice. 21 Even a cursory review of our op inions will reveal that citation of au thority is not alw ays exhaustive. Indeed, it need not be and it is not intended to be. To be sure, courts sometimes will endeavor to cite every case on an issue, but that usually is to show the issue to be w ell settled or to analyze the subject exh austively . Citation to the seminal case, the leading case for the proposition under discussion, or the most recently decided case, ordina rily suffices and is what is done. That certainly is the case with Langley 281 Md. at 347, 378 A.2d at 1343 ( Insofar a s this particular type of question is c oncerned , we write on a clean slate. ). An analysis of the cases cited by Curtin and Stewart and the propositions for which they were cited demonstrate the point. The list Curtin develop ed, a nd adopted b y Stewart, did not purpo rt to list ever y voir dire case decided by this Court on the various voir dire questions. Being voir dire seminal cases, the same cases are cited for the mandatory inquiry that they ann ounce d for th e first tim e. Othe r cases a re adde d, theref ore, only as the list of mandatory inquiries expands, only as this Court determines and holds that additional inquiries are mandato ry. When, a su bsequen t case simply ad opts the reasoning of a seminal case and applies it, as this Court did in Bowie, that case, though subsequently decided, need not, and usually will not, be cited. This point can be illustrated by considerin g this Court s trea tment of th e race, ethnic and cultural bias ma ndatory inquiry. Hernan dez v. State , 357 Md. 204, 232, 742 A.2d 952, 967 (1999) is the leading case on this issue and, consequently, is consistently cited for that proposition. See Stewart, 399 Md. at 161, n.5, 923 A.2d at 52, n.5; State v. Logan, 394 Md. 22 378, 397, n. 2, 906 A.2d 37 4, 385, n. 2 (2006); Curtin, 393 Md. at 609, n.8, 903 A.2d at 932, n.8 (2006). On occ asion, however, see Owen s v. State, 399 Md. 388, 444, 924 A.2d 1072, 1105 (2007 )(Rake r, J., concurring ); see also State v. Thomas, 369 Md. 202, 218, 798 A.2d 566, 575 (200 2); Dingle v. State, 361 M d. 1, 11, n. 8, 75 9 A.2d 8 19, 824 n .8 (2000), this Court will string cite to the cases on which Hernandez based i ts holdin g, nam ely, Hill v. State, 339 M d. 275, 661 A.2d 11 64 (1995 ) (holding [A]s a m atter of M aryland nonconstitutional criminal law, that the refusal to ask a voir dire question o n racial or eth nic bias or prejudice under the circumstances of this case ... . ) and Bowie , 321 Md. at 11, 595 A.2d at 453 ( [W]e hold that the trial court erred in refusing to address in voir dire the issue [of racial bias] raised by the three question p roposed b y appellant. ). W hen this C ourt elects to cite only to Hernandez for the proposition that race, ethnicity and cultural bias questions must be asked, Hill and Bowie are n ot ov erru led b ecau se they are not m entio ned. Sim ilarly, just because Bowie was not cited by Curtin and Stewart does not mean it was overruled. As explained, the Bowie holding on voir dire is derived from Langley, which the Cou rt determined to be dispositive. Bowie , 321 Md. at 8, 595 A.2d at 451. Because Bowie was merely a reiteration and explication of an already settled precedent, citation to that precedent rendered citation to Bowie unnec essary. The State further contends that, even if Bowie were n ot over ruled, Bowie is still not applicable because the Court, in that case, did not hold that [the third] question, standing 23 alone, was mandatory in all cases. The State again ba ses its argument on, and f inds support for it from, the failure of Stewart and Curtin to cite Bowie in the list of mandatory voir dire inquires. We rejec t the p remise th at un derlies th e Sta te's position, th at an y voir dire question not expressly mentioned in Stewart and Curtin is no t man dato ry. The argumen t that Bowie did not hold that the Defense-Witness question was, standing alone and in all cases, man datory is belied not only by what the Cou rt said about that question, but also by wha t it did. It is true that the Court concluded that the three questions requested by the defendant we re related; however, it did not suggest, much less state, that all three would have to co-exist before the category or affiliation questions could be asked. Just the opposite is the cas e. As we h ave seen, th e Court no ted two ca tegories of c oncern w ith occupatio nal, or status, witnesses and categorical, or affiliation, witnesses, one of which related to the dichotomy between State s witnesses and defense witnesses. Common to each of these categories was the predisposal of the venire, or some of them, to favor the testimony of one over the testimony of the other. It is significant that the State m ust always car ry its burden and it must do so with witnesses. Conseq uently, it is inconceivable, from a reading of Bowie, that a Sta te-Witn ess inqu iry could b e refus ed. It fol lows, th erefore , that where there are defen se witnesses to be called, the Defense-Witness question would also be required. That is all that is required, that where the issue exists, the question must be asked, if requested. 24 With regard to the significance of the fact that Langley was cited only for the proposition that question s relating to the tendency of the venire to favor police officers are man dato ry, restricting or limiting the reference in a citation does not determine the scope of the case cited; if the case stands for a broader proposition, it is that proposition, not the restricted reference, that controls. Thus, while the citation to Langley in Curtin and Stewart was restricted, referencing only police officer testimony, the real question is, what does the case itself stand for? As we have seen, and as Bowie made clear, the case was not so restricted; it recognized that the bia s concerns were not just related to police offices, but extended to witness occupations and categories The reference in Langley to police officers, therefore, is simply shorthand for s tatus and affiliation witnesses, as to whom inqu iry into venire predispos ition is ma ndatory. IV. As a second ary matter, our p recedents re flect that any qu estion requ ested that is relevant to the facts or circumstances presented in a case which assists the trial judge in uncovering bias can, must, be asked. See Thomas, 369 Md. at 208, 798 A.2d at 569. ( Any circumstances which m ay reasonably be regarded as rendering a person unfit for jury service may be made the subject of questions and a challenge for cause. ); see also Casey, 217 Md. at 605, 143 A.2d at 63 1 ( . . . the trial judge should adapt the questions to the needs of each case in the effo rt to secure an im partial jury. ); Corens, 185 Md. at 564, 45 A.2d at 343 ( In other words, an examination a prospective juror on his voir dire examination is proper as 25 long as it is conducted strictly within the right to discover the state of mind of the juror in respect to the matter in hand or any collateral matter reasonably liable to unduly influence him. ). If a response to a requested voir dire question would not further the goal of voir dire and uncover bias among prospective members of the jury, it need not be asked and the court will no t abuse its discre tion in n ot doin g so. Curtin is illustrative. There , the Court had to decide w hether the trial c ourt erred in excluding the following question during voir dire examination: Does anyone have any strong feelings concerning the use of handguns that they would be unable to render a fair and impartial verdict based on the evidence? Id. at 597, 9 03 A.2 d at 925 . The C ourt he ld it did n ot. Id. at 595, 903 A.2d at 924. Quoting the intermediate appellate court, Baker v. S tate, 157 Md. App. 600, 853 A.2d 796 (2004), this Court stated : In this case . . . potential juror bias ab out handg uns does n ot go so dire ctly to the nature of the crime. Appellant was accused of robbing a bank with an accomplice who was brandishing a gun. ... [N]o analysis or weighing of issues pertaining to the gun was required by jurors in this case. ... The proposition that a juror's strong f eelings for o r against han dguns w ould nece ssarily preclude him or her from fairly weighing the evidence in this case ... is based upon a transcendental line of reasoning with which w e disag ree. Baker[v. State, 157 Md.App. 600, 853 A.2d 796 (2004)] makes clear that a proposed voir dire question should not be probin g or abstrac t, but should directly address potential jurors' biases, prejudices, and ability to weigh the issues fairly. The inquiry should focus on the venire person's ability to render an impartial verdict based sole ly on the evidence presen ted. Appellant's proposed v oir dire question did not directly address a juror's ability to weigh the issues fairly or render an imp artial ver dict in th is case. 26 Id. at 611-612, 903 A.2d at 933-934. The Court then distinguished that question from other questions which were included during the voir dire which adequately addressed any potential issues of bias regarding the nature of armed robbery. Id. at 613, n. 10, 934, n. 10. See also Stewart, 399 Md. at 164, 923 A.2d at 54, 55( [n]one of appellant s questions that the judge refused to ask fell within the mandato ry areas of inqu iry, or were re asonably likely to reveal cause for disqualification and none of them dea lt specifically with the facts of the case, the c rime, the w itnesses, or ap pellant himself. ). Curtin, therefore, focused on whether the requested voir dire question would assist in the pursuit of uncovering bias and, in that w ay, assist the court an d coun sel in sele cting an unbias ed jury. Under that analysis, the D efense-W itness questio n is mand atory in cases, suc h as this one, because it falls within the very core of the purpose of voir dire, it is designed to uncover venireperson bias. The question specifically addresses whether a witnesses sponsored by the State would rece ive a 'pre sum ption of cred ibility' in direct c ontraven tion to a d efen dant's right to a fair a nd imp artial trial. Voir dire, as this Court has held numerous times, i s supposed to uncover bias and favoring one witness over another solely because of that witness s status or affiliation demonstrates bias. As addressed and resolved in Bowie , therefore, it is not enough to confine the inquiry to occupation, to assure a fair trial, it is necessary to extend the inquiry to whethe r a venireperson w ould also favor or disfa vor a nonofficial witness, simply because of his or her status or affiliation with the State or the defen se. 27 V. The petitioner submits tha t there are stag gering im plications sho uld this Court h old either that the D efense -Witne ss ques tion is no t mand atory or, in the altern ative, w as not required to be given in this case. He reasons that such a holding would d isrupt the w ellsettled Maryland law affirming the purpose of voir dire, to discover v enireperso ns who hold bias. It also would, the petitioner asserts, necessarily imply that a witne ss who is predisposed to believe the State s w itness over th e defense witnesses is not subject to disqualification for cause. Citing Curtin, he notes that bias impairs a juror s ability to render an impartial verdict based solely on the evidence presented. 393 Md. at 605, 903 A.2d a t 929-3 0. This C ourt ag rees. The purpose of voir dire is to ensure and secure a defendant s right to a fair and impartial trial by permitting the selection of a jury comprised of venirepersons who do not hold preconceived notions or biases that would affect the outcome of the trial. As we have said, in pursuit of this goal, a trial court must question the v enire and consider w hether any of the ans wers re veals su ch a bia s. Curtin, 393 Md. at 605, 903 A.2d at 929-30. Any question likely to elicit disqualifying information must be asked. Failu re to do so ta ints the obje ctivi ty and thus impartia lity of the ju ry, with negative implications for the defendant s right to a fair trial. The holding in Bowie is dispositive of this case. This Court, in Bowie , 324 Md. 1, 595 A.2d 448, as we have seen, addressed the circumstances under which a Defense-Witness voir 28 dire question should be asked, concludin g that, in cases in which th ere is a Defense-Witness and a Defense-Witness question is requested, the question must be asked during voir dire examination. This recognition that a defendant has the right to determine whether witnesses called by the State will start with a presumption of credibility simply because of the positions occupied rather than the facts of the case, Bowie, 324 Md. at 10, 595 A.2d at 452, is simply the reiteration of the proposition articulated in Langley, that a venireperson who would bestow credit to a witness because of the witness s status or party affiliation is no longer impartial and, therefore, may be disq ualified for cau se. Langley, 281 Md. at 348, 378 A.2d at 1343. A ccordingly, we will affirm what we said there. In this case, as in Bowie , defense counsel properly submitted his request for voir dire, which included a State-Witness question, a Defense-Witness question and a police officer question. Althoug h allowing the latter ques tion, the trial cou rt refused to ask the other two. That refusal, and specifically as to the Defense-Witness question, was error. This is so because the State called both official (police) and non-official (non-police) witnesses, the defendant called witnesses to testify for him and, despite the State s a rgum ent to the c ontrary, none of the other voir dire questions covered the substance of either the non-official StateWitness questio n nor th e Def ense-W itness qu estion. First, Bowie held that all three questions are nec essary. Bowie , 324 M d. at 11, 5 95 A.2 d at 453. Moreover, general questions that delve into a venireperson s personal acquaintances or beliefs,2 familial and 2 The State also sugg ests that the Defense-W itness question is covered by: Is there (continued...) 29 personal relation ship w ith, or to, crime, criminals and certain professions, while pertinent and necessary to uncover certain kinds of bias, simply do not suffice to uncover status or affiliation bias; they do not address, never mind resolve, the question of whether a venireperson would favor a particular witn ess o r cate gory o f witness pre judicially. Davis v. State, 333 Md. 27, 31, 633 A.2d 867, 877 (1993) ( Merely asking general questions, such as, is there any reason why you could n ot render a fair and impartial verd ict, is not an ad equate substitute for properly framed questions d esigned to highlight specific areas where potential jurors may have b iases that cou ld hinder the ir ability to fairly and impartially decide the case. ). Finally, Bowie expressly rejected the argument that the Defense-Witness question is subsumed within the police officer question. 324 Md. at 7-8, 5 95 A.2 d at 451 . We made clear that, although related to questions involving official witnesses, that question spoke to an additional concern not to be overlook[ed]. Bowie , 324 M d at 11, 5 95 A.2 d at 452 . The State argues, any error in failing to ask Moore s requested voir dire questions was ultimately harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. To be sure, under the harmless error doctrine, not every error committed during a trial is reversible error. Williams v . State, 394 Md. 98, 120, 904 A .2d 534, 547 (200 6)(Raker, J., disssenting). Where, howe ver, a reviewing court, upon its own independent review of the record, is [un]able to declare a belief, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the error in no way influenced the verdict, such error 2 (...continued) any member of the prospective jury panel who has any political, religious, or philosophical beliefs about your system of justice that you make you hesitate to sit as a juror in this case? We do not agree. 30 cannot be deemed 'harmless' and a reversal is mandated. Dorsey v. Sta te, 276 Md. 638, 659, 350 A.2d 6 65, 678 (1976 ). See also Williams v. State , 394 M d. at 120 (2006 )(Rake r, J., disssenting) (quoting McDonough Power Equip. v. Greenwood, 464 U.S . 548, 553, 1 04 S.Ct. 845, 848-49, 78 L. Ed. 2d 663, 670 (1984) ( The harmless-error rules adopted by this Court and Congre ss embod y the principle tha t courts shou ld exercise ju dgment in preference to the automatic reversal for 'error' and ignore errors that do not affect the essential fairness of the trial. ). In Casey, this Court state d the test: "[P]arties to an action triable before a jury have a right to have questions propounded to prospective jurors on their voir dire, which are directed to a specific cause for disqualification, and failure to allow such questions is an abuse of discretion constituting reversible error. Casey, 217 Md. at 605, 14 3 A.2d at 631. See Boyd v. State, 341 Md. 431, 439, 671 A. 2d 33, 38 (1996) ( If the question is not reasonably likely to reveal cause, such as the question Davis proposed , it will not be an abuse of discretion fo r the judge to refuse to as k it; if the question would be reasonably likely to reveal something disqualifying, such as plaintiff Casey's proposed question regarding biases towards or against the Roman Catholic Church, the judge who refuses to ask the question will abuse his discretion and commit reversible error. ).3 3 The issue resolved in Boyd v. State was: is it an abuse of discretion for a trial judge to refuse a party's request that the judge ask on voir dire whether any of the prospective jurors has a physical impairment hindering his or her performance as a juror? (continued...) 31 If there is an ab use of discretio n, there is error an d that err or is reve rsible err or. State v. Logan, 394 Md. at 396-397, 906 A.2d at 385; Landon v. Z orn, 389 Md. at 216-17, 884 A.2d at 148; Dingle v. S tate, 361 M d. at 18, 7 59 A.2 d at 828 (quotin g, Davis v. S tate, 333 Md. at 63 , 633 A.2d at 885 (19 93) (Bell, J., disse nting); Casey, 217 Md. at 605, 143 3 (...continued) 341 Md. 431, 433, 671 A.2d 33, 34 (1996). Answering that question, we held: Under the com mon law of this State this Court will prescribe the juror voir dire process only as much as is necessary to establish that jurors meet minimum qualifications for service and to uncover disqualifying bias. Because Maryland statutory law requires that a thorough assessment of a juror's physical ability to serve take place at earlier stages in the jury selection process, we hold that such a question is not necessary and therefore not mandatory when requested at the voir dire stage. The refusal of the trial judge in each of the instant cases to ask such a question was not an abu se of d iscretion . Id. at 433, 671 A.2d at 34. (emphasis in original). To be sure, in Owen s v. State, 399 Md. 388, 422, 924 A.2d 1072, 1092 (2007), this proposition was overruled. We reasoned: The rule in Boyd that voir dire questions concerning minimum statutory qualification s are not m andatory whe n sou ght w as an imat ed, in part, by a belief that such questions duplicate needlessly the efforts of the pre-voir dire screening methods which focus on statutory disqualifications. That cases such as the prese nt one occ ur demo nstrate a corre ctable we akness in this reasoning. Because the pre-voir dire screening m ethods faile d to identify and ex cuse Ala de, a non-c itizen, it is eviden t that voir dire question s reg arding m inim um s tatut ory qu alificatio ns ar e not alw ays redundant and unnecessary. ... In fact, our cases ruminate that the pre-voir dire proces ses of s creenin g out di squalif ied juro rs are no t fail-saf e. See supra note .... We are persuade d, and so h old, that it is in the b etter interests of justice to require trial judges to pose voir dire questions directed at exposin g constitutional a nd st atuto ry disq ualif ications w hen requ ested by a party. Accordingly, we overrule Boyd to the exten t that it conflicts w ith this hold ing. There is no inconsistency between the proposition for which Boyd has been cited and the Owens holding. 32 A.2d at 63 1; Thoma s v. State, 139 Md. A pp. 188, 197, 775 A .2d 402, 412 (200 1). It is not, by de finition , harmle ss. In this ca se, the D efense -Witne ss ques tion sho uld hav e been asked o f the ve nire. When th e trial judge ref used to ask it, he abused his discretion , committing reversible error. JUDGMENT OF THE COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS REVERSED; CASE REMANDED TO THAT COURT WITH INSTRUCTIONS TO REVE RSE TH E JUDG MEN T OF TH E CIRC UIT COURT FOR FREDERICK COUNTY AND TO REMAND THE CASE TO THAT COURT FOR A NEW T RIAL. CO STS IN T HIS CO URT A ND IN THE C OURT OF SPE CIAL A PPEAL S TO B E PAID BY FREDERICK COUNTY. 33 IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND No. 27 September Term, 2009 CHARLES F. MOORE, JR. v. STATE OF MARYLAND Bell, C.J. Harrell Battaglia Greene Murphy Adkins Barbe ra, JJ. Concurring Opinion by Murphy, J. Filed: February 26, 2010 I am in com plete agreem ent with the holding th at the trial court e rred whe n it failed, upon the defendant s request to ask the Defense-Witness question during voir dire. I write separately, however, to repeat two suggestions made in the concurring opinion I filed in Curtin v. Sta te, 165 M d. App . 60, 884 A.2d 7 58 (20 05), aff d, 393 Md. 593, 903 A.2d 922 (2006). In my effort to reduce the chances that a conviction will be reversed on the ground that the defendant was entitled to a voir dire question that the Circuit Court refused to ask, I stated: My first suggestion is that the circuit court resolve a doubtfu l and/or marginal voir dire question in favor of the party who h as requ ested th at it be as ked. In the case at bar, asking the questio n at issue would hav e resulted in a more efficie nt use o f judicia l resourc es. My second suggestion is that the circuit court analyze a proposed voir dire question by applying a test that is derived from the (no longer permissible) compound question test articulated as follows in Davis , supra, 93 Md. App. at 121-22: [A] compound question probing both A) the existence of a condition and B) the likely consequence of that condition has been deemed legally appropriate and required. *** This general rule applies, whatever the particular subject matter may be. The variation consists of nothing more than filling in a blank with respect to C ondition A. Condition A, of course, can be anything. Are you now or have you ever been a member of [the American Red Cross, ...]? Component B is a constant. ... and would such condition make it impossible (or difficult) to return a fair and impartial verdict based only upon th e evidence in this case? An affirmative answer to Consequence B is always a groun d for d isqualif ication, w hateve r its caus e. A modification of this test is required because, in Dingle v. State, 361 Md. 1 (2000 ), the Court of Appeals abolished the compound question rule. The mo dification, ho wever, m erely requires that there be (1) a direct inquiry into the existence of any condition the reason ably likely consequ ence of w hich wo uld impair a prospective juror s ability to return a fair and impartial verdict based only upo n the evide nce presen ted in open court, and (2) as to any prospective juror who responds in the affirmative to that inquiry, appropriate follow up questions that foc us upo n the co nsequ ences o f the pa rticular c onditio n. *** . . . When presented w ith a particular voir dire question, the trial judge should ask himself or herself, does this question probe for a cond ition that wo uld be likely to im pair a juror s ability to decide this case on the evidence presented? If the answer to that question is yes, the question should be asked. Had this test been applied in State v. T homas, 369 Md. 202 (2002), the circuit court would have concluded that, in a case in which the defendant has been charged with selling drugs to an undercover o fficer, it is likely that a prospective juror s attitude about drugs would impair his or her ability to be fair and impartial. Had this test been a pplied in Sweet v. Sta te, 371 Md. 1 (2002), the circuit cou rt would h ave conc luded that a defendant charged with the sexual child abuse of his girlfriend s eleven year old daughter was entitled to a voir dire question that asked the venire, D o the charges stir up strong emotional feelings in you that would affect your ability to be fair and impartial in this case? Had this test been applied in Baker v. State, 157 Md. App. 600 (2004), the circuit court would have concluded that, in an assa ult case involving the defenses of self-defense and defense of others, it is likely that a prospective juror s attitude a bout hand guns w ould impair his or her ability to be fair and impartial when deciding whether those 2 defenses are available to a defen dant wh o used a h andgun to shoot the alleged victim. Had this test been applied in Logan v. State, 164 M d. App . 1, 882 A.2d 330 (2005), the circuit court would have con cluded tha t, in a murde r case in which the defendant has filed a p lea of not c riminally respon sible by reason of insanity, it is likely that a prospective juror s attitude about the insanity defense would impair his or her ability to be fair and impartia l. 165 M d. App . at 76-7 9, 884 A .2d at76 7-759 . (Murphy, C.J., concurring). I am persuaded tha t, had this test been applied in the case a t bar, the Circuit Court would have concluded that the Petitioner was entitled to a voir dire question directed at uncov ering b ias again st witne sses fo r the def ense. 3