Eight New February 2017 Maryland Certiorari Grants

By Brandon Moore

On Friday, the Court of Appeals issued eight certiorari grants, covering a wide range of civil and criminal questions. We have two more cell phone Fourth Amendment cases, including one where the police obtained a warrant. The list of cases, with questions presented, appears after the jump.

Richard Ceccone v. Carroll Home Services, LLC – Case No. 85, September Term, 2016

Issue – Courts and Judicial Proceedings – Did the trial court err by dismissing the case due to a consumer contract’s time limitation clause where that clause contradicts the Statute of Limitations in Md. Code Ann, Courts & Judicial Proceedings, 5-101?

Timothy Alan Moats v. State of Maryland – Case No. 89, September Term, 2016

Issues – Criminal Law – 1) Does an individual’s suspected involvement in a crime and a police officer’s belief that a cell phone could be used in that crime, without more, constitute probable cause to search and seize that individual’s cell phone? 2) Does the good faith exception to illegal searches and seizures apply in this case?

National Waste Managers, Inc. Chesapeake Terrace v. Forks of the Patuxent Improvement Association, Inc. et al. – Case No. 90, September Term, 2016

Issues – Zoning & Planning – 1) Did CSA err in failing to reverse the Board’s action and in failing to remand the case with instruction to the Board to grant National Waste Managers’ (“NWM”) fourth variance request? 2) Did CSA err in remanding the case for consideration of whether NWM’s variance was necessary? 3) Did CSA err in construing the county variance statute and in denying preclusive effect to prior adjudications and findings of the Board?

Donta Newton v. State of Maryland – Case No. 86, September Term, 2016

Issue – Criminal Law – Did CSA err in reversing the trial court’s determination that trial counsel, appellate counsel and the trial court committed reversible error in permitting alternate jurors to be present during jury deliberations?

Karla Louise Porter v. State of Maryland – Case No. 88, September Term, 2016

Issues – Criminal Law – 1) Did CSA improperly apply harmless error review when, rather than considering the effect of an erroneous imperfect self-defense instruction on the jury’s verdict, it applied de novo review to the trial court’s underlying decision to grant the instruction – a question not before it- resolved that issue in favor of the State, and retroactively determined that the jury would have convicted if the trial had unfolded as CSA believed it should have? 2) If so, did CSA err when it found the provision of legally erroneous instruction on imperfect self-defense harmless beyond a reasonable doubt?

Sage Title Group, LLC v. Robert Roman – Case No. 87, September Term, 2016

Issues – Torts – 1) Did CSA err in creating an “escrow account” exception to the rule against conversion claims involving comingled funds? 2) If an employee violates company policy without breaking the law, is a later serious crime foreseeable to the employer? 3) Must the doctrine of unclean hands/in pari delicto, which is a question for the court, be invoked in a Rule 2-519 motion before submission to the jury? 4) Can a defendant in a conversion claim for money avoid liability with a “commingling” defense if that defendant was entrusted with specific, identifiable funds and agreed with the plaintiff to place those funds in an escrow account to which only plaintiff would have access? 5) Was CSA correct to find that expert testimony was necessary to prove Respondent’s negligence claim, where Petitioner wrongfully transferred Respondent’s money to third parties without Respondent’s authority? 6) Was CSA correct to find that Petitioner preserved for review its argument that its employee’s conduct was not foreseeable and, therefore, not within the scope of his employment, when no such argument was made at any time before Petitioner’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict?

Theodore Scott v. State of Maryland – Case No. 91, September Term, 2016

Issues – Criminal Law – 1) Where the State fails to prove the existence of a prior conviction for purposes of imposing a mandatory sentence pursuant to Md. Code Ann., Criminal Law § 14-101, is the State barred from attempting to prove the prior conviction on remand for resentencing under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment and/or the Md. common law prohibition against double jeopardy? 2) If so, did CSA err in holding that the State was not barred from attempting to prove the existence of a prior conviction of Petitioner on remand for resentencing? 3) Did the trial court err in resentencing when it concluded it did not have the discretion to make the remanded sentence run concurrently with other sentences that were not remanded for resentencing on appeal? 4) Did CSA err in holding that the issue in question 3 had not been preserved for appellate review?

Timothy Stevenson v. State of Maryland – Case No. 92, September Term, 2016

Issues – Criminal Law – 1) Did the search warrant applications establish a sufficient nexus between the alleged crimes and Petitioner’s cell phone, such that the warrant-issuing judges had a substantial basis for finding probable cause? 2) Did the trial court err in denying petitioner’s motion to suppress the fruits of a search conducted pursuant to the warrant? 3) If the warrant-issuing judges did not have a substantial basis for finding probable cause, did police nonetheless rely on the warrants in good faith?

 

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