COSA Dissent Watch: Marijuana Odors and Pat-Downs

By Chris Mincher

The case: Norman v. State, Sept. Term 2015, No. 1408 (Aug. 11, 2016)

The questions: Was the odor of marijuana effectively the only justification for a police officer’s alleged belief that a passenger in a vehicle was armed and dangerous? If so, is that belief reasonable for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment?

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COSA Dissent Watch: Plea Bargains That Ignore Mandatory Probation

By Chris Mincher

The case: Crawley v. State, Sept. Term 2013, No. 0467 (Aug. 8, 2016)

The questions: If a plea agreement would be invalid without the inclusion of probation, is probation an implied term of the agreement? If a plea agreement is invalid because it provides for an illegal sentence, can a trial court, sua sponte, increase the sentence to make it legal? If a plea agreement is invalid for failure to include probation, is a defendant’s renegotiation of the plea limited to the addition of probation, or can he renegotiate the entire agreement?

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“A Case About Nothing”: Ireton v. Chambers

By Brad McCullough

If the iconic 1990s television comedy series “Seinfeld” was a show about nothing, then a recent decision of the Court of Special Appeals was – in the words of Judge Kevin Arthur – “a case about nothing.” Ireton v. Chambers, No. 1038, Sept. Term 2105, slip op. at 1 (July 28, 2016). But while the case might have been “about nothing,” the litigants disagreed about nearly everything, including what exactly the court was reviewing, what standard of review the court should employ, and how a statute granting qualified immunity to municipal officials should be interpreted.

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August 2016 Maryland Certiorari Grants

It’s been a slightly elongated layover since the Maryland Court of Appeals made their July certiorari decisions, but, with nine new cases, it’s clear the gears are starting to grind for the upcoming term. Included in the mix is Johnson v. State (we called it!), the much-publicized prosecution for the murder of Phylicia Barnes that ended in acquittal… or did it? Some big double-jeopardy questions in that one for the Court to figure out. Check out the rest of the grants after the jump.

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Fifteen Days to Go, and an Avalanche — 15 — Maryland Court of Appeals Cases Left to Decide!

By Michael Wein

Last year, with about one week to go before the Maryland Court of Appeals’ self-imposed deadline for deciding all cases in a September term by the following August, the Court had only four cases left to decide. Per the “Pending Cases” page on the Court of Appeals’ web site, with two weeks to go before this year’s deadline, 15 decisions are left to decide. Of these 15 cases, seven are civil, six are criminal, one is an Attorney Grievance matter (which the oral arguments indicate was, interestingly, remanded back to the trial judge for additional findings and re-argued in the same term), and one is a Bar application case.

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COSA Dissent Watch: Post-mistrial Acquittals and Double Jeopardy

By Chris Mincher

The case: State v. Johnson, Sept. Term 2015, No. 0189 (June 29, 2016)

The questions: Does a circuit court have fundamental jurisdiction to acquit a defendant after the grant of a mistrial? Does such an acquittal bar further prosecution even if court relies on evidence that is technically not before it?

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Anthony Kennedy’s 80th Birthday and Trump’s Legacy

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

Anthony Kennedy turns 80 today. In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, I’ve seen numerous posts from longtime Republicans to the effect of “I have no party anymore.” That thought may have popped into the head of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Read More…

“De Facto Parents”: Maryland Joins the Trend

By Karen Federman Henry

Earlier this month, the Court of Appeals issued a decision in a case presenting the opportunity to revisit Maryland’s view of “de facto parents.” In Conover v. Conover, No. 79, Sept. Term, 2015 (July 7, 2016), a same-sex couple in a long-term relationship decided that they wanted to have a child. One member of the couple became the biological parent through artificial insemination, and the couple participated equally in raising the child. After the baby was born, the women married.

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United States v. Graham: The Fourth Circuit Rejects the Privacy Concerns of a Broad Range of Groups with Often Conflicting Interests

By Alan Sternstein

To appreciate the range of constituencies concerned with threats to privacy in this country, one need only examine the diverse array of amici supporting the appellants in United States v. Graham, No. 12-4659 (4th Cir., May 31, 2016) (en banc). Amici from the Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund to the ACLU and from the Gun Owners of America to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press lined up to voice their concerns in connection with the Fourth Circuit’s en banc review of its panel’s decision ruling that the government had violated Defendants’ Fourth Amendment rights when it obtained from their cellphone carriers’ records personal cell-site location information (“CSLI”) without a warrant supported by probable cause.[i] The Fourth Circuit nevertheless overturned the ruling.

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COSA Dissent Watch: Questioning Police Officer Testimony and Bias in Voir Dire

By Chris Mincher

The case: Lapole v. State, Sept. Term 2014, No. 2169 (June 27, 2016)

The questions: Can a voir dire question about bias regarding testimony of police officers reference other professions as well? Is the failure to properly give that question subject to harmless-error review?

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