Update on Consideration of Proposed Unreported Opinion Rule

By Michael Wein

A lot of lively discussion ensued on this Blog and others on the proposed revisions to Md. Rule 1-104. There was a general positive reaction to the news that, for the first time, unreported opinions from the Court of Special Appeals (about 90 percent of the appellate opinions in the state) would by end of this year be made available online on the Judiciary website. Most commentary, however, focused on the proposed revisions to 1-104 that would expand the prohibition on citation of Maryland unreported opinions to include all “non-precedential,” “unreported,” and “unpublished” opinions, thereby broadly sweeping away an enormous number of previously citable decisions from across the nation, including all state and federal trial and appellate courts.

So what happened at the Rules Committee meeting on April 10 where this proposal was to be considered? Online, there’s no way to tell. The Maryland Rules Committee has not made their minutes available online since 2012. Given that the agenda for a Rules Committee meeting, along with any proposed rules to be discussed, is not posted until about a week or so beforehand, I didn’t have much notice about the topics for April 10 and was unable to attend because of prior scheduled matters. But I have spoken with persons who would have personal knowledge. So, from a legal perspective, it’s hearsay (though what I like to think of as “reliable hearsay”), but, if I recall the Journalism 101 class I took in college, with two sources I can report what I was told: The proposed revisions of Md. Rule 1-104 were taken off the agenda shortly before the April 10 meeting, and were instead placed on the next meeting on May 8. (Other important proposed Appellate Rules from the April meeting were adopted without substantive change, such as the standards for brief size, from a page limit to the federal Circuit Courts of Appeal model of a word limit with a verifying certificate.)

What form, if any, a new proposed Md. Rule 1-104 will take will therefore have to wait for scrutiny until the new agenda for the May 2015 Rules Committee meeting is posted, likely later this week.


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