By Michael Wein,
Well, we’re one week away until the Maryland Court of Appeals’ self-imposed deadline of Monday, August 31, 2015, for deciding all cases in the September Term. Per the “Pending Cases” page on the Court of Appeals’ website, four, count that, only four, decisions are left, one from April (State v. Dykes), one from May (State v. Waine), and two from June (State v. Westray and Wicomico County Department of Social Services v. B.A.). The two from June may not reflect any particular disagreements between the judges, but are pending simply because they were the most recently argued, or, in the case of Westray, because it will be decided in tandem with the Dykes case from April, as both involve issues about the right to discharge counsel. The “Questions Presented,” as posed on the Court of Appeals’ web page, for all remaining cases are listed below.
On August 5, a divided panel of the Fourth Circuit decided United States v. Graham, a Hobbs Act robbery case originating in the District of Maryland. Although the Appellants raised several challenges to their convictions, the most interesting issue was whether the Court should extend Fourth Amendment protections to records about where and when a mobile phone connected to antennas and electronic communications equipment on a cellular network, data called “cell-site location information” (CSLI). Senior Judge Andre Davis, one of the Fourth Circuit judges from Maryland, wrote the majority opinion, holding that users of cellphones have a reasonable expectation of privacy in historical CSLI, at least where such information covers an extensive period of time. Judge Davis was joined by Judge Thacker in that conclusion. One of the other Maryland judges on the Court, Judge Diana Motz, dissented from that portion of the majority opinion.
In an article here in January, I wrote about the doctrine of official or government speech. The post was prompted by the appeal pending in Montgomery County v. Fraternal Order of Police, Md. Ct. Spec. App., No. 175, which was decided by the Court of Special Appeals in April. Slip Op. (decided Apr. 3, 2015). The court’s decision reversed, among other things, the Circuit Court’s ruling that the Appellants, Montgomery County and certain of its officials, had acted beyond their power and authority by making substantial use of public funds and resources to campaign in a general-election referendum in favor of legislation that the County Council had passed and that the County Executive had signed into law. According to the Circuit Court’s “Findings of Fact,” Appellants had unlawfully “engaged in electioneering and conducted a political campaign.” Id. at 11.
On the heels of its eight(!) published opinions today, the Court of Appeals of Maryland released its July 2015 certiorari grants. There are only four grants, three of which involve disputes with the Maryland Department of the Environment. The cases, with questions presented, appear after the jump. Read More…
Traditionally, the preclusive effects of res judicata and collateral estoppel applied only if the parties in the second case were the same as, or in privity with, the parties in the first case. This was commonly referred to as the “strict mutuality of parties” requirement, but the Court of Appeals “long ago discarded” that requirement for both res judicata and collateral estoppel. Caldor, Inc. v. Bowden, 330 Md. 632, 657 (1993) (citations omitted). Thus, it is now “irrelevant that the party seeking to assert collateral estoppel was not a party to the prior proceeding. Only the party against whom collateral estoppel is asserted need be a party or in privity with a party in the prior adjudication.” Id. at 657.
The Court of Appeals of Maryland has six weeks (minus a day) until its self-imposed deadline of August 31 to issue opinions in all cases heard from September 2014 through June 2015. We count 23 such cases awaiting opinions: 11 criminal appeals, 8 civil appeals, and 4 attorney discipline cases. Those numbers include three cases (1 civil, 2 attorney discipline) where the Court issued a per curiam order immediately after argument and indicated that an opinion was forthcoming. If this year shakes down like last year, we should expect most of those opinions to come down in the days following the Court’s July 23 conference, with the remaining handful of opinions coming down in August. If you want a preview of what’s coming, the Court’s Pending Cases list provides a handy guide.
A vacancy on Maryland’s highest court opened when Court of Appeals Judge Glenn T. Harrell, who occupied the seat reserved for Prince George’s County, hit mandatory retirement age on June 27. The joke in legal circles has been that we’ll now learn whether there are any Republican lawyers in Prince George’s County (aside from a former lieutenant governor and RNC chair).
You can keep joking away. Steve Lash is reporting, from behind the The Daily Record paywall, that there were only two applications filed by today’s deadline. Both applications came from Democratic appointees to lower courts: Read More…
“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” quipped Martin Mull, summing up in eight words the difficulties and frustrations (and perhaps questionable merit) of trying to adequately convey the nature of a song in written language. I’ve been reviewing music for about a decade now, and it is a never-ending struggle; there is simply no smooth conversion from sound to text. In the realm of intellectual-property law, this constant challenge for critics becomes the occasional burden for the federal judiciary – as Fourth Circuit Judge Pamela Harris recently discovered in resolving a headline-making copyright case involving two pop mega-stars.