The case: Norman v. State, Sept. Term 2015, No. 1408 (Aug. 11, 2016)
The questions: Was the odor of marijuana effectively the only justification for a police officer’s alleged belief that a passenger in a vehicle was armed and dangerous? If so, is that belief reasonable for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment?
The case: Crawley v. State, Sept. Term 2013, No. 0467 (Aug. 8, 2016)
The questions: If a plea agreement would be invalid without the inclusion of probation, is probation an implied term of the agreement? If a plea agreement is invalid because it provides for an illegal sentence, can a trial court, sua sponte, increase the sentence to make it legal? If a plea agreement is invalid for failure to include probation, is a defendant’s renegotiation of the plea limited to the addition of probation, or can he renegotiate the entire agreement?
If the iconic 1990s television comedy series “Seinfeld” was a show about nothing, then a recent decision of the Court of Special Appeals was – in the words of Judge Kevin Arthur – “a case about nothing.” Ireton v. Chambers, No. 1038, Sept. Term 2105, slip op. at 1 (July 28, 2016). But while the case might have been “about nothing,” the litigants disagreed about nearly everything, including what exactly the court was reviewing, what standard of review the court should employ, and how a statute granting qualified immunity to municipal officials should be interpreted.
It’s been a slightly elongated layover since the Maryland Court of Appeals made their July certiorari decisions, but, with nine new cases, it’s clear the gears are starting to grind for the upcoming term. Included in the mix is Johnson v. State (we called it!), the much-publicized prosecution for the murder of Phylicia Barnes that ended in acquittal… or did it? Some big double-jeopardy questions in that one for the Court to figure out. Check out the rest of the grants after the jump.
By Michael Wein
Last year, with about one week to go before the Maryland Court of Appeals’ self-imposed deadline for deciding all cases in a September term by the following August, the Court had only four cases left to decide. Per the “Pending Cases” page on the Court of Appeals’ web site, with two weeks to go before this year’s deadline, 15 decisions are left to decide. Of these 15 cases, seven are civil, six are criminal, one is an Attorney Grievance matter (which the oral arguments indicate was, interestingly, remanded back to the trial judge for additional findings and re-argued in the same term), and one is a Bar application case.
The case: State v. Johnson, Sept. Term 2015, No. 0189 (June 29, 2016)
The questions: Does a circuit court have fundamental jurisdiction to acquit a defendant after the grant of a mistrial? Does such an acquittal bar further prosecution even if court relies on evidence that is technically not before it?