Once again, it’s time for your friendly neighborhood certiorari grants. Sadly for this blog’s traffic, the Court of Appeals hasn’t heeded our bypass suggestions in Syed v. State.
(Yet.) (Update: Probably because of this odd opinion.)
The grants, with questions presented, appear after the jump. Read More…
[Update: A reader, David Lease, pointed out to me the 4-3 decision in Stachowski v State, 416 Md. 276(2010), which appears to negate the possibility of bypass. Thanks to David and boo to Stachowski .]
Caught between a rock and a hard place: Court of Special Appeals lacks jurisdiction of county hearing officer’s decision
In Ross Contracting, Inc. v. Frederick County, No. 977, Sept. Term 2103 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Feb. 2, 2015), a contractor, whose efforts to replace a bridge were impeded by the unexpected discovery of hard rock, was further frustrated when it learned that it had landed in a hard place – an appellate court that lacked jurisdiction over the contractor’s dispute with Frederick County. The case serves as a reminder “‘that appellate jurisdiction, except as constitutionally authorized, is determined entirely by statute, and that, therefore, a right of appeal must be legislatively granted.’” Slip Op. at 10 (quoting Prince George’s Cnty. v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp., 358 Md. 166, 173 (2000), quoting Gisriel v. Ocean City Bd. of Supervisors of Elections, 345 Md. 477, 485 (1997)) (other citation omitted).
A big case out of the Court of Appeals earlier this year didn’t get any play here on the Blog, but generated a bit of fallout discussion elsewhere in the online Maryland legal community last month, including write-ups by Ann Marie Mehlert of Lerch, Early & Brewer and Catherine A.B. Simanski of Rollins, Smalkin, Richards & Mackie. Described by Catherine in her post as arising from “a feud of ‘Hatfields and McCoys’ proportions over parking spots situated between a condo association and a homeowner’s association,” Falls Garden Condominium Ass’n, Inc. v. Falls Homeowners Ass’n, Inc., Md. Ct. App., No. 30, Sept. Term 2014 (Jan. 27, 2015), grabbed some attention by holding that a letter of intent (that’s an “LOI” among acronym-savvy attorneys) for a settlement agreement was still binding on the parties even though they couldn’t eventually agree on the terms of a lease that was meant to satisfy the proposed settlement. In analyzing the outcome, Ann Marie offered that most real-estate professionals “have always viewed the LOI as an efficient means to get business terms out on the table and agreed to before negotiating a lease” and “usually understand that the LOI is non-binding.”
“Law of the case” is a doctrine that tends to be loosely thrown around by attorneys who vaguely feel that some fact or principle should be treated as established for the remainder of their litigation, but don’t quite know why. For appellate practitioners — especially those who get involved in particularly contentious and protracted lawsuits — it’s good to get an occasional refresher on how the principle actually works. The Court of Special Appeals recently provided just such a primer in Baltimore County, Maryland v. Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 4, Sept. Term 2013, No. 1904/Sept. Term 2014, No. 99 (Dec. 17, 2014), a case that should cause all lawyers readying an appeal to think a little deeper about what issues they need to raise and what relief they want to seek.