Archive | May 2014

Supreme Court to Review Maryland Tax Case

This morning, the Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari to review the decision of the Court of Appeals of Maryland in Maryland State Comptroller of the Treasury v. Wynne,  431 Md. 147 (2013). The Order list is here. For prior blog coverage of Comptroller v. Wynne, see the following posts:

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Maryland Court of Appeals Ends Unusual Certiorari Procedure

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

With no fanfare, the Court of Appeals of Maryland has ended an internal practice that was unusual among state high courts. At the May meeting of the MSBA Litigation Section Council, Court of Appeals Judge (and Section Chair) Glenn Harrell informed the council that the Court of Appeals has, effective immediately, disbanded its Bypass Committee.

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Affirmative Action—Past, Present, and Future

By Karen Federman Henry

Like many pre-law students, I started studying the United States Constitution in college. I remember my professor commenting that the Constitution “protects the minority.” This was not so much a focus on a particular religious or racial category, but more a synthesis of the idea that the majority view easily prevails on any given issue, but it may not be the correct approach for society to use. A prime example has been this country’s civil rights movement—for too many years, the majority view allowed slavery, limited voting rights, and segregation in schools, housing, and employment. Read More…

Maryland Certiorari Grants, May 2014

The Court of Appeals website reflects that the Court has granted merits review in two cases. Not listed below are six cases for which the website does not reflect the questions presented. The fact that all six have been assigned September 2013 Term docket numbers, combined with the lack of a question presented, suggests that the Court is taking summary action on those six cases or consolidating them with a case pending this term.

Alan Sternstein previously posted on this blog regarding the Court of Special Appeals decision in one of the two cases, Espina. The questions presented in the two new certiorari grants to be argued next term are:

Estela Espina, et al. v. Steven Jackson, et al. – Case No. 35, September Term, 2014

Issues – Constitutional Law – 1) Can the General Assembly contravene or restrict by statute self-executing rights in the state constitution? 2) Does the Local Government Tort Claims Act (LGTCA) encompass and serve to cap self-executing constitutional rights? 3) With 96.5% of the verdict stripped from the petitioners, is the application of the LGTCA damages cap to the facts here unconstitutional under Art. 19? 4) Did CSA err in applying the LGTCA cap to the constitutional deprivations here after the jury found malice and the County stipulated to scope of employment? 5) Did CSA err in holding that all wrongful death claims are reduced to one claim?

David Payne, et ux. v. Erie Insurance Exchange, et al. – Case No. 38, September Term, 2014

Issue – Insurance Law – Under Maryland Indemnity Insurance Co. v. Kornke, et al., 21 Md.App. 178, 319 A.2d 603 (1974) and its progeny, did the trial court err in holding that Erie was not required to provide coverage to a second permittee using an insured’s car within the named insured’s original grant of permissive use?

Some Thoughts on the Nomination of Pamela Harris to the Fourth Circuit

By Michael Wein

As recently posted on this blog, President Obama has nominated Georgetown Professor Pamela Harris for the Fourth Circuit seat that Judge Andre Davis recently vacated. In addition to her teaching credentials, Ms. Harris appears well suited for this task, as a regular Supreme Court practitioner who once clerked for Justice Stevens.

As I discussed in a previous post, there were five candidates, mostly with significant appellate experience, whom Senators Mikulski and Cardin recommended to President Obama. The list included former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal. (Before posting, this information was confirmed from multiple sources.) So as predicted, President Obama did pick a candidate who had significant appellate or Supreme Court experience, just not Mr. Katyal, and Ms. Harris like Mr. Katyal teaches at Georgetown Law. Read More…

Pamela Harris Nominated to Replace Andre Davis on Fourth Circuit

Todd Ruger is reporting at the Legal Times that President Obama is nominating Pamela Harris to fill the vacancy created when Judge Andre Davis assumed senior status this past February 28. [Update: the official White House press release is here.] Professor Harris’ biography is here. It seems likely that, if confirmed, Professor Harris would become the first Circuit Judge to maintain her chambers at the Greenbelt, Maryland federal courthouse.

Michael Wein previously reported here at the Maryland Appellate Blog that Neal Katyal (also of Georgetown Law) was among the names forwarded for the seat. Tough field.

Court of Appeals to Address Standing to Challenge Legislative Comprehensive Zoning Enactments

By Brad McCullough

Last year, the Court of Appeals addressed standing requirements for challenging zoning and land use decisions, issuing opinions significantly shaping the standards for standing. See Kendall v. Howard Cnty., 431 Md. 590, 66 A.3d 684 (2013); Ray v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 430 Md. 74, 59 A.3d 545 (2013). This year, the Court is poised to do so again. On March 21, 2014, the Court granted certiorari in Anne Arundel Cnty. v. Bell, 437 Md. 422, 86 A.3d 1274 (2014) to consider these three issues: Read More…

DeWolfe Update: Legislative Standstill and a Modest Alternative Proposal

By Michael Wein

As discussed in numerous prior posts on this blog, DeWolfe’s implementation has been an unexpected headache for the Court of Appeals. The Court held in 2013 that criminal defendants have a constitutional right to counsel at their initial bail determination. Legislation (discussed in my previous post), but nothing passed. It appears, however, that the General Assembly has appropriated $10 million to pay for counsel. I’ve not been involved with this case, but, having worked in Annapolis before law school, I’ll put on my legislative hat to propose a workable solution that would predictably cost under $10 million. To do this, three separate categories are necessary to first examine: (1) Baltimore City; (2) the interim constitutional solution using cost-efficient video conference technology, and (3) the long-term, non-constitutional, legislative solution. Read More…

Judge Arthur Publishes His First Opinion

Court of Special Appeals Judge (and former Maryland Appellate Blog editor) Kevin Arthur has published his first opinion: White v. Register of Wills, — Md. App. — (May 1, 2014). It comes less than six weeks after he joined the Court. It’s as concise and well-written as we here at the Maryland Appellate Blog expected.

Juror #4 and Me: A Tale of Trial on Remand

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

On Friday, February 28, I finally had a chance to talk with my lovely wife, Meredith, about what had been on her mind for past 1½ weeks. From February 20 through 28, Meredith wasn’t just a mother, an R.N., and a graduate student. She was also Juror #4, in front of Judge M. Brooke Murdock of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Read More…