Welcome to the Maryland Appellate Blog

By Steve Klepper

Welcome to the Maryland Appellate Blog, sponsored by the MSBA Litigation Section. The blog fills a gap in Maryland legal commentary. In most states of equal or larger population, there are one or more blogs dedicated to appellate matters in the state. Typically, solo practitioners or small firms maintain those sites. The result can be that those blogs temporarily or permanently cease operation when the author hits a busy patch in his or her work. Such single-author blogs also can suffer from too narrow a focus or viewpoint.

The Maryland Appellate Blog seeks to improve on the state appellate blog model by featuring original content from a roster of contributors, plus guest authors. It is inspired by—but far less ambitious than—SCOTUSblog and The Volokh Conspiracy. The blog primarily covers the Court of Appeals, with ancillary coverage of the Court of Special Appeals, the Fourth Circuit, and the Supreme Court.

Posts ordinarily will not consist of detailed case summaries, which are already available in other publications. Rather, blog content includes:

  • certiorari petitions before the Court of Appeals;
  • coverage of notable arguments;
  • practice tips;
  • commentary on the implications of specific rulings or general trends;
  • interviews with appellate judges; and
  • news, including committee programs.

The blog’s opening-day editorial roster consists of seven appellate practitioners.

Steve Klepper, a principal of Kramon & Graham, P.A., is the blog’s first editor-in-chief. Steve has been micro-blogging on appellate matters on Twitter (@MDAppeal) since last year, and the blog will feature an embedded feed of those posts. This semester, Steve will be working on a D.C. Circuit appeal with the University of Virginia Appellate Practice Clinic. He previously taught a course on Supreme Court history at Goucher College, where he now serves as president of the alumni association. Steve frequently publishes commentary on judicial history and policy.

Kevin Arthur, also a principal of Kramon & Graham, P.A., has written and lectured widely on appellate litigation, especially the final judgment rule. He formerly chaired the Appellate Practice Committee, and he presently chairs the MSBA’s Committee of Laws, which advises the Association’s Board of Governors about pending legislation.

Jonathan Biran recently co-founded Biran Kelly LLC. He previously served as Appellate Chief for the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, where he supervised the appellate work of several dozen Assistant United States Attorneys, in addition to maintaining his own significant appellate caseload. He is a member of the Boards of Directors of the Baltimore Bar Foundation and the Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr. Appellate Advocacy Fellowship.

J. Bradford “Brad” McCullough is a principal at Lerch, Early & Brewer, Chtd. He serves on the Section Council of the MSBA Litigation Section. Brad chairs his firm’s appellate practice sub-group, and he has represented clients in appeals in a wide variety of areas including commercial litigation, family law, tort law, and real estate development.

The blog successfully recruited Maryland appellate royalty, Erin Murphy of Silverman | Thompson | Slutkin | White LLC. Her practice is entirely devoted to appellate litigation in State and Federal Courts. Erin is also an adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, where she co-teaches Evidence with her father, retired Court of Appeals Judge Joseph F. Murphy, Jr.

The blog’s lone former Supreme Court clerk is Alan Sternstein, who initially clerked for Justice William O. Douglas during the Court’s October 1975 Term and then joined Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.’s chambers, upon Justice Douglas’s retirement early that term. Alan is a principal at Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan & Silver, LLC. He has briefed and/or argued cases in the Supreme Court, six different federal circuits, and in state and local appellate courts in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.

Michael Wein has devoted his Greenbelt practice almost entirely to trial and appeal matters and is Chair of the Appellate Practice Section for Prince George’s County.  He’s a frequent published author on Maryland and Federal appellate procedure. As a plaintiffs-oriented trial attorney experienced in criminal defense work, he enhances the quality of his active trial and appeal cases, by on a daily basis tracking new appeal and Cert-grant cases.

The blog is, of course, a work in progress. As the sports and pop-culture writer Bill Simmons recently noted, his ESPN-sponsored site, Grantland, took about a year to solidify its identity. Come September 2014, we may find that we have succeed wildly, fallen flat on our faces, or, most likely, wound up somewhere in between. However this experiment takes shape, we are grateful to the Litigation Section for this opportunity.

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