Archive | May 2017

Court of Appeals leaves unanswered how no-contest clauses reduced four decades of estates and trusts case law

By Michael Wein

Maryland estates and trusts law does not get its fair share of reported appellate decisions. The vast majority of estates and trusts cases are handled quickly and adroitly by the orphans’ court or, in some counties, the circuit court. Few cases are seriously litigated on appeal, and even fewer are decided by the Maryland appellate courts. A survey reveals that only 2 out of the 97 cert petitions granted by the Court of Appeals in the 2016 term fell under the category of “Estates and Trusts.”[1] In 2015, there were none.[2]

One of the two Court of Appeals cases from the 2016 term, Vito v. Grueff, was heard at oral argument on March 31, 2017. Vito highlights the lack of wills and estates case law in Maryland.

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The Final Judgment Rule: It ain’t over ’til it’s over

By Karen Federman Henry

Just when you think you know all of the rules for determining when a final judgment exists, they shift a bit.[*] The March 24 decision of the Court of Appeals in URS Corp. v. Fort Myer Construction Corporation interpreted the separate document requirement in Md. Rule 2-601 to allow a waiver of the requirement when doing so does not prejudice a party and preserves a party’s right to appeal. In some respects, the Court has returned us to some of the uncertainty that accompanied its decision in Houghton v. County Commissioners of Kent County, 305 Md. 407 (1986).

The elements of a final judgment sound simple—when all of the issues have been decided and the parties are effectively “out of court,” the time to appeal starts to run. Read More…

May 2017 Maryland Certiorari Grants

This month’s first batch of certiorari grants from the Court of Appeals of Maryland is here. The most interesting cases come from the criminal side, with questions regarding a “missing witness” instruction as to a defendant’s mother, and regarding the use of a “music video/slide show” as a victim impact evidence.

The Court may issue additional certiorari grants following its May 18 conference. The full list of five certiorari grants, with questions presented, appears after the jump. Read More…

Fourth Circuit Senior Judge Andre Davis to Become Baltimore City Solicitor

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

There is some bittersweet news out of Baltimore. Senior Judge Andre Davis, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, will be resigning his commission to become the new Baltimore City Solicitor, effective September 1, 2017. He has heard his last Fourth Circuit arguments and will be finishing work on opinions over the summer. Read More…