Archive | December 2013

The 4th Circuit Bids Farewell to the Separate Statement of Facts

By Jonathan Biran

The Fourth Circuit recently gave notice of its amendment to Local Rule 28(f) in order to conform to amendments to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 28. The amendments to the federal rule eliminate the Statement of Facts as a separate section of a federal appellate brief. Of course, the Fourth Circuit isn’t doing away with a recitation of the facts, it is just following the new federal rule, under which the Statement of the Case and the Statement of Facts are now consolidated into one section of the brief that is to provide a “concise statement of the case setting out the facts relevant to the issues submitted for review, describing the relevant procedural history, and identifying the rulings presented for review, with appropriate references to the record.” Given these changes to Fed. R. App. P. 28, the Fourth Circuit is amending its Local Rule 28(f) to eliminate the reference to the Statement of Facts and to describe the factual statement to be included by counsel in the statement of the case. Specifically, the local rule now requires that the Statement of the Case “include a narrative statement of all of the facts necessary for the Court to reach the conclusion which the brief desires, with references to the specific pages in the appendix that support each of the facts stated.”

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December 2013 Certiorari Grants, Including 2 New DNA Cases

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

On December 20, 2013, the Court of Appeals of Maryland granted certiorari in seven cases. All seven cases have been set for argument during the term beginning September 2014.

The first two listed cases include interesting variations on the Maryland DNA Collection Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in Maryland v. King, 133 S. Ct. 1 (2012). Two criminal defendants now want to use DNA matches to point the finger at other potential culprits. Read More…

Five Names, Including Neal Katyal, Reportedly to Be Forwarded for Judge Davis’ Seat on 4th Circuit

By Michael Wein

For now, I’ll have to attribute this to ‘reliable hearsay,’ as opposed to any personal knowledge, but Maryland’s Senators apparently are recommending to President Obama five potential nominees to replace Fourth Circuit Judge Andre Davis, who is taking senior status in February.

The five names reportedly include Neal Katyal, who is presently with Hogan Lovells in D.C., and who was acting Solicitor General following President Obama’s appointment of Justice Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Read More…

In re 2012 Legislative Districting and the Permanence or Expedience of Judicial Review

By Alan B. Sternstein

Every ten years, after each national census, provisions in the Maryland Constitution (Art. III, § 5) require that the State’s 47 Legislative Districts be reviewed for reapportionment. Those same provisions require the Governor to submit to both houses of the State legislature, the Senate and the House of Delegates, a plan for the 47 Districts, making boundary changes to the District in response to population changes and as necessitated by and consistent with state and federal constitutional requirements. Failing the General Assembly’s adoption of its own plan, the Governor’s plan becomes law, and that became the case for Governor O’Malley’s plan in response to the 2010 census (“2012 Plan”), which became the law on February 24, 2012.

The reapportionment provisions of the Maryland Constitution also vest the Court of Appeals with original jurisdiction to review any registered voter’s constitutional challenge to the legislative redistricting plan (Art. III, § 5). On March 6, 2012, the Court of Appeals issued an order in Matter of 2012 Legislative Districting of the State, 429 Md. 301, 55 A.3d 713 (2012), setting forth procedures to accommodate such challenges and appointed retired Court of Appeals Judge Alan M. Wilner as the Court’s Special Master, to conduct any necessary hearings. Eventually, after hearings before the Special Master, the submission of his recommendations, the taking of exceptions thereto, and argument before the Court, the Court issued a one page order on November 9, 2012, rejecting all challenges to the 2012 Plan, with opinion to follow. The Court (Bell, C.J., ret.) issued that opinion (cited herein as “Slip Op.”) on December 10, 2013. Read More…

Certified Questions to the Court of Appeals Now Online

By Michael Wein

Certified questions are an irregular part of Court of Appeals practice (averaging about 3-5 per year), usually from a Maryland Federal District Court judge or a Fourth Circuit panel asking the Maryland Court of Appeals to opine on an unsettled (but dispositive) issue of Maryland law. Theoretically any jurisdiction, state or federal, in the United States could certify a question for the Court of Appeals to decide under the Maryland Uniform Certification of Questions of Law Act, found at sections 12-601 to 12-613 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article. Before the recent web revamp about three months ago, unless you were a litigant in the case, it was difficult to know just from checking the judiciary web site, what, if any, certified questions were being considered in the Court of Appeals. Usually the first notice was when the case appeared on the online oral argument schedule. Read More…

Read This: A Great Fourth Circuit Dissent

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

Judge Andre M. Davis is, in my opinion, one of the two best writers on the Fourth Circuit. (The other is Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III.)

Earlier this week, readers of the Fourth Circuit’s opinions were treated to a powerful dissent by Judge Davis in United States v. Kerr, No. 12-4775 (4th Cir. Dec. 3, 2013). Without taking sides between the majority and the dissent on the substantive question (the application of the Armed Career Criminal Act to North Carolina convictions), I’d like to highlight the dissent as an excellent piece of legal writing. Read More…