Three Things Congress Should Do in 2015 About Judges

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

The first six months of 2015 will provide a short breather before the nation’s political machinery turns its attention to the 2016 presidential election. For all the talk of how the Republican takeover of the Senate will affect judicial nominations, the next six months provide a window of time when Congress can reform judicial policy for the next president — before we have much of an idea who the next president will be.

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November 2014 Maryland Certiorari Grants

With Thanksgiving only a week away, the Maryland Court of Appeals has laid a rather meager spread of fresh certiorari grants on the table. Appellate enthusiasts licking their chops for new issues have relatively few matters to pick from this caseload cornucopia, but those with an interest in administrative rule-making, parenting problems, jury instructions in criminal cases, and procedural quirks have some morsels to feast upon. Details after the jump.

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Judge Pamela Harris and the Fourth Circuit’s Collaborative Culture

By Derek Stikeleather,

On Friday, I had the pleasure of attending the MSBA/FBA panel discussion on recent impact decisions from the Fourth Circuit. Maryland’s Pamela Harris, the newest addition to the Fourth Circuit, headlined the event at the Greenbelt federal courthouse. Her introductory remarks were predictably gracious, uncontroversial, and eloquent, coming from someone still feeling the glare of the judicial confirmation process. But they were not empty platitudes; she offered some important practice points for the Fourth Circuit bar.

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Are Attorneys Becoming Extinct?

By Karen Federman Henry

Recently, I spent some time going through the accumulated legal journals on my desk. As I turned from the ABA Journal to the Maryland Bar Journal, it became more and more evident that many technology tools may have started to threaten the need for humans in the practice of law.

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Maryland Law Review Endnotes: An Academic Outlet for Commentary on Pending Cases

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m a fan of online companions to law reviews. Here in the state, Maryland Law Review Endnotes is a great outlet for publishing short-form academic-style articles – particularly those about cases drawing a great deal of attention in Maryland appellate courts.

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Monster-At-Law: The Halloween Quiz

By Chris Mincher

It’s Halloween – have you picked out a costume of the most frightening, evil, wicked thing you can think of? If that means you’re dressing up this year as Justice McReynolds, we’ve got the perfect holiday distraction for you. Before co-mingling with them this evening, check out the quiz below and test your knowledge of the various supernatural creatures that have previously lurked through Maryland’s appellate jurisprudence.

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Raynor v. Maryland: Shades of, or for, Privacy Invasions to Come

By Alan B. Sternstein

The recent decision of the Court of Appeals in Raynor v. Maryland, No. 69, September Term 2012, is laden with issues and potential issues bearing on the scope of individual privacy from state intrusion. Correctly or incorrectly, and depending on your viewpoint (for the reader’s personal sensitivities about privacy will likely affect his or her appraisal of the Court’s decision), the Court addressed some of these issues, missed at least acknowledging others, and left still others, appropriately, for another day.[1]

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October 2014 Maryland Certiorari Grants

With Halloween right around the corner, the Court of Appeals of Maryland has decided to address some potential nightmare scenarios for criminal defendants — being stuck without legal representation, or having claims of actual innocence given short shrift by the justice system. Check out those cases and the rest of yesterday’s cert grants after the jump.

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Event: 4th Circuit Impact Decisions, with Remarks by Judge Harris

The Maryland State Bar Association Section of Litigation and the Maryland Chapter of the Federal Bar Association proudly present

 “Fourth Circuit Impact Decisions”
with introductory remarks by
The Honorable Pamela A. Harris

A panel of leading federal appellate practitioners will provide an overview of recent key civil and criminal decisions of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The Honorable Pamela A. Harris will provide introductory remarks on her transition from private practice to the federal bench. Before joining the Fourth Circuit in July 2014, Judge Harris served as visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center, as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice, as an appellate and Supreme Court litigator with O’Melveny & Myers LLP, and as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and D.C. Circuit Judge Harry T. Edwards.

Ezra Gollogly, a principal with Kramon & Graham, P.A. and a member of the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference, will then moderate a panel of three appellate attorneys: Matthew Kaiser, Samantha Chaifetz, and Steven Klepper.

Matt Kaiser is the founder of Kaiser, LeGrand & Dillon, PLLC, a litigation boutique in Washington, D.C. He represents individual and small business clients in commercial litigation, government investigations, and white-collar cases. Matt has written extensively on a number of topics – particularly in federal criminal law and procedure. He is the author of the Federal Criminal Appeals Blog, which the ABA Law Journal recognized as one of the 100 best law-related blogs in the United States for 2011, 2012, and 2013. Matt teaches professional responsibility at Georgetown University Law Center and is a member of the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference. He clerked for Chief U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake.

Samantha Chaifetz is an Appellate Staff attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division. Sam has served as lead counsel in over 40 appeals, including constitutional, statutory, and administrative challenges, involving a wide range of issues, from privacy law to health care reform. She has drafted successful Supreme Court filings for the Office of the Solicitor General and argued in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the D.C., Federal, First, Fourth, Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits. In 2013, Sam received the Attorney General’s Exceptional Service Award and Civil Division Special Commendation for defense of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. She clerked for U.S. District Judge Louis H. Pollak (E.D. Pa.) and for Ninth Circuit Judge Betty B. Fletcher.

Steve Klepper is a principal with Kramon & Graham, P.A. He has argued civil and criminal appeals before the Fourth Circuit, D.C. Circuit, and both Maryland appellate courts. He has briefed cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and in the Third, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits. Steve founded the Maryland Appellate Blog of the MSBA Litigation Section, which awarded him the Chair’s Award for Exceptional Service in 2014. He serves as an outside advisor for the U. Va. Appellate Practice Clinic, and as president of the Alumnae & Alumni of Goucher College.

The program will take place on Friday, November 14, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. in the Ceremonial Courtroom at the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, 6500 Cherrywood Lane, Greenbelt, Maryland 20770.

The panel discussion will be followed by a reception. Admission to the program is free. Please RSVP by November 7, 2014 to

Kulbicki v. State Dodges Due-Process Issues, Rules on Grounds That Weren’t Briefed

By Brad McCullough,

Last September, I previewed two cases that had the potential to be the Court of Appeals’ “next big case.” One of them was Kulbicki v. State, a case that demonstrates how oral argument can dramatically shape a case. In 1993, James Kulbicki was a 36-year-old married police officer with a 22-year-old mistress. After the mistress’s dead body was found with a bullet wound to the head, Kulbicki was convicted of murdering her. The prosecution’s case featured several expert witnesses, one who testified as an expert in comparative bullet-lead analysis, or “CBLA,” and another who testified as an expert in firearms identification. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed Kulbicki’s convictions and the Court of Appeals denied his petition for writ of certiorari. Kulbicki v. State, 102 Md. App. 376 (1995). Eleven years later, in Clemons v. State, 392 Md. 339 (2006), the Court of Appeals held that the conclusory aspects of CBLA are not admissible under the Frye-Reed test. Kulbicki also learned that the firearms identification expert had lied about his qualifications and that much of his trial testimony was simply false. Armed with this new information, Kulbicki sought post-conviction relief, but the circuit court denied his petition and the Court of Special Appeals affirmed.

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