Although its status as the intermediate appellate court may lead to skimming or skipping many of the decisions issued by the Court of Special Appeals, taking the time to review them can yield points of law that often go unnoticed. This blog post captures a few recent issues that might otherwise have escaped your attention (especially if you are a purist and focus only on the Court of Appeals or United States Supreme Court). The nuggets found in the intermediate appellate court deserve attention in modern law practice, because many days bring out-of-the-ordinary issues to our desks. Read More…
Last year, Winn-Dixie lost an ADA-compliance lawsuit—Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., 257 F. Supp. 3d 1340 (S.D.N.Y. 2017)—because blind individuals, who use screen readers to navigate websites, could not effectively use the supermarket chain’s website. Winn-Dixie, which has appealed the ruling, is not alone. In the last year, litigants have filed hundreds of website-accessibility lawsuits across the country. Hospitals, clinics, retailers, restaurants, credit unions, and universities have all been targeted. Read More…
Baltimore attorney John J. Connolly, a prolific writer, has self-published an invaluable volume, Republican Press at a Democratic Convention: Reports of the 1867 Maryland Constitutional Convention.
Connolly, who annotates the 1867 reports published by the Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser, begins with this commentary: Read More…
The Maryland Court of Appeals granted four writs of certiorari today:
Wesley Cagle v. State of Maryland – Case No. 15, September Term, 2018
Issue – Criminal Procedure – Does a trial court err in precluding a criminal defendant from using trial testimony video in closing argument?
Karen McDonell v. Harford County Housing Agency – Case No. 16, September Term, 2018
Issues – Administrative Law – 1) Did Respondent err in terminating a voucher without affording procedural due process guaranteed under federal and MD administrative common law? 2) Does a MD charge of second degree assault constitute “violent criminal activity” and grounds for voucher termination? 3) Did Respondent err in interpreting its policy to require notice within two weeks of an unplanned and unforeseen absence from the housing rented with the voucher? 4) Is breach of a financial obligation that had been cured adequate grounds for voucher termination? 5) Did Respondent err in failing to explicitly consider all relevant facts before voucher termination?
State of Maryland v. Brandon Payton – Case No. 14, September Term, 2018
Issues – Criminal Law – 1) Where Respondent made specific objections to reopening the State’s case for more fingerprint-expert testimony only on the grounds that the additional fingerprint testimony would be the last thing that the jury would hear and that it would be presented in isolation, were defense counsel’s claims that reopening would be “unfair” and “extremely prejudicial” or the trial court’s statement that the reopening could “very well … be grounds for appeal” sufficient to preserve a judicial-partiality claim? 2) Did CSA err in concluding that the trial court abused its discretion in reopening the State’s case sua sponte? 3) Where the reopening of the State’s case was based on the trial court’s incorrect assumption that there had been no testimony linking Respondent to the handprint, was any error harmless beyond a reasonable doubt because the testimony was cumulative of the testimony of three prior witnesses linking Respondent to the handprint?
Craig Williams v. State of Maryland – Case No. 13, September Term, 2018
Issue – Criminal Procedure – Did the trial court abuse its discretion in denying a motion for new trial where the court gave a pattern jury instruction and, after the jury rendered its verdict, the court, prosecution, and defense all acknowledged that the instruction erroneously omitted an element of the offense for which the defendant was convicted?
The Maryland high court is about to hear, on emergency briefing, the appeal in Lamone v. Lewin. The administrator of the State Board of Elections is challenging the April 26 injunction requiring that former state senator Nathaniel Oaks’ name be removed from the June primary ballot.
The briefing is superb on both sides. Julia Doyle Bernhardt and Andrea Trento, with the Office of the Attorney General, and Mark Sitchel and Elizabeth Harlan, representing the challengers, did top-flight work on a frantic schedule. The quality of briefing should make the Court’s job easier, but the ultimate choice is a difficult one. Read More…
In my lengthy October 2017 post, The End of Frye-Reed, I traced the history of Maryland’s Frye-Reed jurisprudence on expert testimony and explained my view that Frye-Reed is now “on its last legs.” A recent published Court of Special Appeals opinion, Sissoko v. State, suggests that Frye-Reed’s death has drawn even closer. It notes Maryland’s “drift” towards applying Frye-Reed to scientific conclusions, rather than only techniques, and treats the Frye-Reed and Rule 5-702 inquiries as tests that not only “overlap” but perhaps have even “melded into one.” In doing so, the opinion elevates, from well-considered dicta to controlling Maryland law, many points in the concurring opinion in the Court of Appeals’ August 2017 decision Savage v. State.
The analysis in my original post ended with Savage v. State, which is proving itself to be a landmark opinion. Read More…