By Michael Wein
The Maryland case of Kulbicki v. State, involving the post-conviction relief appropriate for those convicted with help from the now thoroughly discredited FBI “comparative bullet lead analysis” (“CBLA”), was one of the “blockbuster” cases of last year, as noted by fellow Blog editor Brad McCullough in a post discussing how the case unexpectedly did not decide larger issues and by myself on a list of some of the “longest pending cases” in the 2013-2014 Term (Kulbicki being the longest). The 4-3 Court of Appeals decision and majority opinion by Judge Lynne Battaglia, instead of dealing with potentially more sweeping issues that could have also been addressed in the case, concentrated more narrowly on Kulbicki’s entitlement to a post-conviction remedy under a regular ineffective-assistance-of-counsel analysis, despite that potential error not being earlier presented in the certiorari petition. As Judge Robert McDonald’s dissent noted, the case “reverses Mr. Kulbicki’s conviction on the basis that his trial counsel failed to anticipate [that CBLA would one day be deemed inadmissible] and thereby provided ineffective assistance of counsel in their cross-examination of the prosecution’s CBLA forensic expert – a ground not briefed by either party in this appeal and not among the questions on which we granted the writ of certiorari in this case.”
In many respects, the en banc decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainebleau Corp., No. 13-1473 (May 7, 2015), presents a series of unfortunate events.* The Court used a relaxed standard for an employee to assert a claim for hostile work environment that could have a significant impact on employers.
The Court of Appeals has posted this month’s granted petitions. The questions include bar exam issues like adverse possession, double jeopardy, and collateral estoppel. An interesting petition comes from a driver whose license was suspended for refusing a blood alcohol test after he blew a 0.0 on the breathalyzer. The six granted petitions, along with questions presented, appear after the jump.
A sea change in Fourth Circuit employment law! Upheaval of Maryland income taxes courtesy of the Supreme Court! The potential mandate of a newspaper font for all state appellate legal writing! Three monumental developments in May, two of which people other than me cared enough to write about. The links after the jump. Read More…
Fourth Circuit airs internal dispute about whether to criticize the Government’s appellate litigating position
The Fourth Circuit issued an unusual published sealing order last week in United States v. Adams, a case from the District of Maryland in which the named defendant and more than 20 others were charged under RICO for their alleged roles in the “Dead Man Incorporated” (DMI) gang. Adams, in particular, was alleged to have conspired to murder several people and to have participated in several such murders. Much of the record is sealed, but we do know that Adams entered a guilty plea in the district court, although it is not clear to what charge or charges. According to the docketing statement that Adams’ first appellate attorney filed, Adams was sentenced on May 3, 2013, and noted a timely appeal on May 14, 2013.
Beginning tomorrow, Maryland attorneys from around the state will begin arriving at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel for the Maryland State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting. While the hotel was itself the subject of an en banc Fourth Circuit decision last month, that’s not the reason for this post. No, it’s time for the annual United States Supreme Court Year in Review.
Traditionally, the program ran on Thursday morning. But, after two years of the Supreme Court issuing decisions on the second Thursday of June – a problem, since the panel usually includes a Supreme Court journalist – it is being held on Friday morning this year. Of course, the Supreme Court decided not to issue decisions this Thursday. Hopefully, no one will be confused, because this year’s event looks great. Read More…