Suppose defense counsel in a homicide trial gives an opening statement suggesting that the victim had been the aggressor and had initiated the fight that ultimately led to his death. Does that opening statement open the door to permit the prosecution, in its case-in-chief, to introduce evidence showing the victim’s character trait for peacefulness? That was one of the issues facing the Court of Appeals in Ford v. State, No. COA-REG-0011-2018 (Oct. 26, 2018).[i] In an opinion authored by Judge Shirley Watts, the Court held that defense counsel’s opening statement had not opened the door and that the trial court erred in allowing the State to introduce the character evidence in its case-in-chief. But the defense victory was pyrrhic, as the Court also held that the error was harmless and thus affirmed the conviction for second-degree murder.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeals granted review in five cases: `
Baltimore County, Maryland v. Michael Quinlan – Case No. 50, September Term, 2018
Issues – Workers’ Compensation – 1) Did the trial court err in denying Petitioner’s motion for summary judgment, given the lack of a clearly defined occupational disease as the basis for the claim and evidence that the conditions were shown to be prevalent in all occupations involving heavy physical labor not uniquely related to the work of a paramedic or EMT as an inherent and inseparable risk? 2) Did CSA err in finding that Respondent met the statutory requirements set forth in LE §9-502(d)(1) and that he had sufficiently established at trial that his condition resulted from an inherent hazard of his employment as a paramedic or EMT? 3) Should this Court review the decision below under the statutory requirements and existing case law, particularly Black and Decker Corporation v. Humbert, 189 Md.App. 171 (2009), which similarly ignores the legislative requirement that a disease is only occupational if it is “due to the nature of an employment in which the hazards of the occupational disease exist” (LE §9-502(d)(1)(i)), to provide clarification and guidance on the requirement for establishing a legally sufficient claim for occupational disease? Read More…
Taxpayer Standing Cases Pending Yet Again in the Court of Appeals: Herein, About Whose Interest Is It Anyways?
The Court of Appeals is poised once again to tackle the subject of standing in Maryland courts, particularly the doctrine of so-called “taxpayer standing.” Four relatively recent and lengthy decisions by the Court have already addressed the matter at length, including the related “property owner standing,” doctrine. Anne Arundel County v. Bell, 442 Md. 539, 113 A.3d 639 (2015); State Center, LLC v. Lexington Charles Ltd. P’ship, 438 Md. 451, 92 A.3d 400, 458 (2014); 120 West Fayette St., LLLP v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 426 Md. 14, 43 A.3d 355 (2012) (“Superblock III”); and 120 W. Fayette St., LLLP v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 407 Md. 253, 964 A.2d 662 (2009) (“Superblock I ”). Two new appeals raise issues showing the lack of clarity that remains regarding taxpayer standing in Maryland. Read More…
This flier just arrived in the email inboxes of MSBA Section of Litigation and Young Lawyer’s Section members. Click here to register. It’s an excellent opportunity to hear from Judges Hotten, Wright, and Fader.
The topics of discussion will include:
- Standards of review
- Issue & error preservation
- The final judgment rule
- Appellate issue selection (COSA)
- Cert. issue selection (COA)
- The brief
- Oral argument
The Maryland Court of Appeals granted certiorari today in seven cases. The likely headliner is In re S.K., reviewing a 16 year-old’s conviction for distributing child pornography, based on her texting two friends a video depicting herself engaged in lawful and consensual sexual conduct.
The grants, with questions presented, are below. Read More…
When does a statute abrogate the common law and when may an arbitration award be vacated due to legal error?
In 1793, the General Court of Maryland – which from 1776 to 1806 exercised both general and appellate jurisdiction – held that an arbitration award could be set aside for reasons “apparent on the face of the award.” Dorsey v. Jeoffray, 3 H & McH. 81 (Md. 1793). In the ensuing years, and well into the Twentieth Century, the Court of Appeals followed that general principle, holding that an arbitrator’s “gross and manifest” mistake can lead a court to set aside an award, Roloson v. Carson, 8 Md. 208, 220-21 (1853), and that an award may be set aside if there is a mistake of fact or law appearing on the face of that award, Parr Constr. Co. v. Pomer, 217 Md. 539, 544 (1958).
In 1965, however, Maryland adopted the Uniform Arbitration Act, Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §§3-201 et seq., which contains five specific grounds for vacating an arbitration award, but a manifest mistake of law is not among them. In the years following adoption of the Act, Maryland courts continued to rule – in cases not governed by the Act – that an arbitration award could be set aside for manifest disregard of the law. Baltimore Cty. Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4 v. Balt. Cty., 429 Md. 533, 564 (2012); Downey v. Sharp, 428 Md. 249, 265 (2012); Board of Educ. of Prince George’s Cty. v. Prince George’s Cty. Educators’ Ass’n, 309 Md. 85, 101-02 (1987). But what about those cases covered by the Act? May an award in one of those cases be vacated for manifest disregard of the law? Or may an award in a case covered by the Act be disturbed only if based on a ground specified by the Act? In WSC/2005 LLC v. Trio Ventures Assocs. (Md. July 30, 2018), the Court of Appeals answered that question. Read More…
The Maryland Court of Appeals today granted certiorari in two cases, outside its regular schedule.
D.L. v. Sheppard Pratt, a follow-up to the Court’s involuntary commitment decision in Bell v. Bon Secours, was circulated to the judges back in March and appears to have been held for review pending the Bell decision. This will likely be the last time that the Court of Appeals reviews an opinion by Senior Judge Arrie Davis, who recently stopped hearing cases.
The Court also granted review in Moore v. Fernwood Mobile Home Park, a “tenant holding over” dispute, at the same time it granted the petitioner’s motion to stay execution on the writ of execution.
There should be at least one more batch of grants this month, when the Court rules on the petitions that were distributed to the judges, in the ordinary course, at the Court’s September 27 conference.
The two grants, with questions presented, are listed below. Read More…
Whether you advise a government entity or seek information from a government for your private client, the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) provides a useful tool for access to public records. Although many requests seek documents that everyone agrees are public information, the exceptions to disclosure and evolution of an array of electronic information that might constitute a public record can pose dilemmas for the government and the requester.
Two appellate decisions that came out during the summer highlight some of the nuances that arise with identifying public records and public employment generally. In Lamson v. Montgomery County, the Maryland Court of Appeals revisited the issue of when a supervisor’s notes become a public record. Read More…
In bittersweet news for the Maryland bench and bar, Bessie Decker, the first-ever woman to serve as Clerk of the Court of Appeals, will retire on October 1. The upcoming vacancy is now posted on the Maryland Courts website, with an application deadline of October 5.