April 2017 Maryland Certiorari Grants: Charter Schools and GPS Evidence

The Maryland Court of Appeals has posted its first batch of April 2017 certiorari grants, and next term is already looking interesting. The four grants include Baltimore charter schools’ appeal of an order staying their challenge to the city school board’s proposed funding formula. The Court of Appeals is also set to address the necessity of expert testimony to introduce a cell phone’s GPS location record. The cases are likely to be argued in September. The full list appears after the jump.

In re: J.J. and T.S. – Case No. 5, September Term, 2017

Issues – Family Law – 1) Under Criminal Procedure § 11-304, Maryland’s tender years statute, in a CINA case, where a child victim does not testify and the court declines to examine the child in chambers, must the court find that the child is competent before admitting her audiotaped ex parte statement into evidence at an adjudication hearing for the truth of the matter asserted therein? 2) Did the facts in this case establish that the child victim was competent, where the child did not testify in court and the court did not examine the child because it found that the audio recording of the child’s statement made an examination of the child unnecessary, although the audio recording contained no indication that the child was aware of the difference between the truth and a lie, and the child previously had fabricated an allegation of sexual abuse? 3) Did J.J.’s hearsay statement have particularized guarantees of trustworthiness to be allowed into evidence?

Martaz Johnson v. State of Maryland – Case No. 6, September Term, 2017

Issues – Criminal Law – 1) Does CSA’s opinion in Gross v. State, 229 Md.App. 24 (2016), holding that expert testimony is not necessary for the admission of GPS-derived location evidence, conflict with this Court’s opinion in State v. Payne, 440 Md. 680 (2014)? 2) As applied in this case, did the trial court err under Payne in permitting a State’s witness to read a cell phone’s GPS location record to the jury and permitting that witness to interpret those records, when the witness admitted that he did not understand how the technology worked or how it produced the record at issue? 3) Was this question properly preserved for appellate review?

Monarch Academy Baltimore Campus, Inc. et al. v. Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners – Case No. 6, September Term, 2017

Issues – Administrative Law – 1) Is a trial court’s issuance of an indefinite stay of plaintiffs’ action, requiring “administrative review of the parties’ dispute,” an appealable order where it imposes a condition that (a) is beyond the control of the plaintiffs to satisfy and (b) requires that plaintiffs undertake actions that even if satisfied would substantively impair plaintiffs’ substantive and procedural rights? 2) Did the trial court err in determining that the State Board of Education has “primary jurisdiction” over the Charter School Operators’ contract actions and, as a consequence, staying the proceedings “pending administrative review of the parties’ dispute by the State Board of Education?” 3) If Question (2) is answered in the negative, then what process is available to plaintiffs both at the State Board and then in court that would permit their claims to be fully heard and adjudicated, with relief granted, and that would not deprive Petitioners of their substantive rights?

Young Electrical Contractors, Inc. v. Dustin Construction, Inc. – Case No. 8, September Term, 2017

Issues – Contract Law – 1) Did CSA err in holding that a “flow down” provision in the subcontract between the prime contractor and a subcontractor created a right for the subcontractor to sue the Owner? 2) Did CSA err in holding that the denial of Petitioner’s claim was a Final Decision to trigger the dispute resolution process in the general contract? 3) Did CSA err in not considering Respondent’s alleged breach of the subcontract by preventing the contractor from pursuing its claims through the Prime Contract, the Prevention Doctrine? 4) Did CSA err in relying upon a “pay-when-paid” provision in the subcontract that Respondent did not raise in its Motion for Summary Judgment and that neither party raised in argument before the trial court? 5) Did CSA err in upholding the trial court’s summary judgment prior to any discovery and factual determination regarding the cause of the delays to the project?

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