Archive | January 2016

January 2016 Maryland Certiorari Grants

Last month we noted that the Court of Appeals had only granted 80 certiorari petitions for its September 2015 Term, meaning either: (1) that the Court of Appeals would hear dramatically fewer cases this term, or (2) that, in a break from the recent past, it would schedule January grants for argument this term rather than hold them for the September 2016 Term. The Court of Appeals chose Door #2 with a vengeance, today granting 14 petitions and assigning all of them to its September 2015 Term docket.

In likely the biggest news out of today’s orders, the Court of Appeals will address the effect of evidence undermining Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis testimony. The full list of grants, with questions presented, appears after the jump.

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Judging Taney: A Response to Josh Blackman

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

As Josh Blackman has covered at his blog, a Baltimore City commission has recommended removing the statue of Chief Justice Roger Taney from the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood.

This event calls to mind an exchange I had with a then-professor at Goucher College in 1994. When he expressed sarcastic pride that a Marylander, Taney, wrote the Dred Scott decision,[1] I asked, “Wasn’t Taney otherwise considered a great justice?” He shot back: “How was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” Point taken.

I favor removing the statue, but we should ask serious questions before cutting symbolic ties with Taney. Read More…

Appellate Documents of Officers Charged in Freddie Gray Death Published Online

By Michael Wein

In the past two weeks, some of the officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray have sought appellate and injunctive relief.  Before officer Caesar Goodson was to go on trial last week, fellow officer William Porter, a potential witness in that case, challenged the trial court’s decision to — despite his own pending retrial after a hung jury — admit his testimony from that trial with use and derivative-use immunity in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kastigar v. United States, 406 U.S. 441 (1972). See also United States v. Oliver North, 910 F.2d 843 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (requiring full Kastigar hearing on use of non-immunized testimony and possible taint thereof). On January 12, Porter, proposing an expedited appellate schedule, had his request granted by the Court of Special Appeals, with abbreviated briefing and oral arguments in March.

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Welcoming 2016—or is it really 1984?

By Karen Federman Henry

When George Orwell published his novel “1984” in 1949, it presented many impossibilities of the future—computers and other artificial intelligence, Big Brother watching every person’s move, and all of the incredible trappings of science fiction stories that many of us enjoy as a break from reality. As the real 1984 approached, technology had not achieved the level imagined in the novel: Computers were huge and immovable; portable phones looked like bricks; and the internet was a newfangled system that few people used.

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Head out to Arizona for some appellate fun in the sun!

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

It finally happened… winter temperatures are upon us after a warm El Niño December. I’d like to invite all of the blog’s readers to attend the DRI Appellate Advocacy program in Scottsdale, Arizona this February 10–12 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Registration information is at this link, and you can download the brochure here.

Faculty will include three U.S. Court of Appeals judges and two state supreme court justices. The program will be repeating my favorite event from last time – a moot court, followed by a simulated post-argument conference among the panel.

There’s no better time to visit Arizona than the dead of winter,[*] and this great program is a perfect opportunity to get out there. I hope to see you there!


[*] Good weather not guaranteed. El Niño works in mysterious ways.

Court of Appeals latches onto State’s laches argument to limit availability of coram nobis relief

By Jonathan Biran

In Jones v. State, ­­No. 16, Sept. Term 2015, 2015 WL 8109905 (Md. Dec. 7, 2015), the Court of Appeals of Maryland significantly limited defendants’ ability to challenge their convictions and sentences through a writ of error coram nobis many years after the fact. Up until now, there have been many instances in which individuals in Maryland have had prior convictions overturned years after the fact because of a constitutional or other significant error that was overlooked at the time of conviction. That run of post-conviction successes may well be largely over after Jones.

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