Archive | April 2018

Court of Appeals to review injunction removing Oaks from primary ballot

The Court of Appeals today granted a petition for certiorari by the administrator of the State Board of Elections, who is challenging yesterday’s injunction requiring that former state senator Nathaniel Oaks’ name be removed from the June primary ballot. Heather Coburn has been covering the case at The Daily Record. The Court of Appeals has scheduled argument this coming Wednesday, May 2. Read More…

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Two Fourth Circuit Nominations in One Day

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

Jane, get me off this crazy thing… called legal news. It’s not even 2:30 p.m., and already the Southern District of New York has appointed a special master to review documents seized from Michael Cohen, and Bill Cosby was convicted on retrial.

It’s actually below-the-fold legal news that that the White House today announced the Administration’s thirteenth wave of judicial nominees, which includes two nominees to the Fourth Circuit. Both would presumably maintain their chambers in South Carolina. Still, if they’re confirmed, you could check in at 8:30 a.m. in Richmond some morning to discover that either or both is on your panel. Read More…

Oral Argument in Benisek v. Lamone: An Alleged Wrong Without a Remedy, Regardless?

By Alan B. Sternstein

The Supreme Court’s most pressing dilemma today is, arguably, the choice between heeding constitutional and practical considerations of justiciability, on the one hand, and, on the other, applying constitutional cures for the evident dysfunction by which partisan redistricting has defiled electoral processes and our democracy. The views of the majority of the electorate on several major policy issues facing this country are demonstrably out of line with the current holders of power in Congress and the Presidency, gun control and health care, being, perhaps, the best examples of this.

In other matters involving the integrity of the electoral process, the Court has often not cowed at confronting the dilemma. See, e.g., Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310 (2010); Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347 (1976); Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976); Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964) and Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962). The institutional risk, still, to federal courts is their supplanting state legislatures in a function that the Constitution expressly assigns to those bodies and the assumption of that function’s burdens by a judiciary ill-equipped, ill-informed and ill-positioned to perform it.

Most recently, the Court recurred to the problem of reviewing redistricting challenges in last month’s oral argument in Benisek v. Lamone, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136208 (D. Md. Aug. 24, 2017), appeal docketed, No. 17-333 (U.S. Sept. 1, 2017). Read More…

The #MeToo Movement and Arbitration Clauses

By Ayesha N. Khan, Guest Contributor[i]

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that the #MeToo movement has seized the cultural zeitgeist. Thousands of women have come forward to tell their stories and many powerful people have lost their positions on the heels of serious accusations. The entertainment industry, the political sphere, corporate boardrooms, and the judiciary have all been affected.

One corporation that has felt the heat is the ridesharing company Uber. After employee Susan Fowler sparked an uproar with allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, an internal investigation led to more than 200 employee complaints and 20 terminations. Fowler will presumably sue Uber, but it remains to be seen whether she will join forces with others in doing so because, like many employers, Uber requires employees to sign a contract that commits them to resolving disputes through private, individual arbitration.

In a trio of consolidated cases – Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, No. 16-285; Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris, No. 16-300; and NLRB v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., No. 16-307 – the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to address whether provisions like the one in Fowler’s employment contract will be given effect. The decision may have a greater impact on businesses and their employees than any other decision this term. Read More…

Strong Cert Candidate in the Supreme Court, May Counsel Delay in Pending Juvenile “Equivalent to Life” Sentences in States like Maryland.

By Michael Wein

The United States Supreme Court has before it, a case out of the Supreme Court of Missouri, Bostic v. Dunbar, that may affect similar pending cases in state and federal courts.  This includes the case in the Maryland Court of Appeals of Matthew McCullough v. Maryland, which had oral arguments in February.  Read More…

April 2018 Maryland Certiorari Grants

The Maryland Court of Appeals granted five writs of certiorari today:

Rodney Lee Agnew v. State of Maryland – Case No. 9, September Term, 2018
(Unreported CSA Opinion by Graeff, J.)

Issues – Criminal Law –Was a recorded communication on a cell phone between Petitioner and an unidentified speaker intercepted in violation of the Md. Wiretap Statute and erroneously admitted at trial when there was no enumerated exception for its admissibility?
Read More…

Free to leave? Maryland courts should rethink how they determine whether a car’s occupants are seized under the Fourth Amendment

By Sam Cowin and Eleanor Erney
Guest Contributors[1]

Suppose you’re sitting in a parked car, waiting for a friend on the street outside her house, when a uniformed police officer suddenly parks behind you, approaches your car on foot, and starts to question you. If you’re like us, your heart would be in your stomach before the police officer even reached your car, and you certainly wouldn’t think that driving away from the scene in the middle of the questioning was an option. The empirical evidence suggests we are not alone: In a 2009 survey, for example, most people (regardless of gender, age, or race) responded that they would not feel free to leave if they were approached and questioned by a police officer on the street.[2] Tellingly, a number of survey respondents who knew they had a right to leave a police encounter nevertheless reported that they would not feel free to exercise that right.[3]

Yet in determining whether the police seized a person in her parked car (therefore entitling that person to Fourth Amendment protection), the Maryland courts continue to operate in a fictional world in which people ordinarily feel free to drive away when a uniformed police officer unexpectedly approaches and questions them. Read More…