April 2019 Maryland Certiorari Grants

On Wednesday, the Maryland Court of Appeals granted certiorari in six cases (four civil and two criminal) and, in a miscellaneous docket proceeding, accepted certified questions from the Court of Special Appeals to resolve three criminal appeals. Those cases, with questions presented, are below.

Andrews & Lawrence Professional Services, LLC and Galyn Manor Homeowners Association, Inc. v. David O. Mills, et ux. – Case No. 5, September Term, 2019 (Reported COSA Opinion by Judge Berger)

Issue – Commercial Law – The Maryland Consumer Protection Act “does not apply to” the “professional services” of a lawyer. In view of this exemption, can an attorney’s client be deemed to have violated the Act, or otherwise be subject to a claim for damages, based solely on the conduct of its attorney that, absent the attorney’s exemption, would, arguendo, constitute a violation of the Act?

Robin Bartlett Frazier v. James McCarron, et al. – Case No. 4, September Term, 2019 (Unreported COSA Opinion by Judge Shaw-Geter)

Issues – General Provisions – 1) For the imposition of a public fine under the Open Meetings Act (“OMA”), must the public body not only “willfully” meet “with knowledge” that its meeting is in violation of the Act, but also have a nefarious motive? 2) When the OMA is violated, but a trial court erroneously finds no violation, is that error “harmless” with respect to enforcing the Act? 3) Should the OMA be strictly construed to limit a public body’s actions to the closed meeting exceptions it publicly discloses prior to the meeting?

Goshen Run Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Cumanda Cisneros – Case No. 3, September Term, 2019 (Certiorari to Circuit Court in Appeal from District Court)

Issues – Commercial Law – 1) Does a confessed judgment clause in a promissory note/forbearance agreement involving homeowners association assessments that expressly preserves the right of the defendant to assert legal defenses, violate the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”)? 2) Assuming, arguendo, that homeowners association assessments are consumer debts within the meaning of the CPA, if the consideration given by a payee to a promisor in a promissory note is the forbearance of debt collection activity on the antecedent debt, does such a promissory note relate to a “consumer transaction” under the CPA? 3) Assuming, arguendo, that the answer to the first question is affirmative, was it appropriate for the district court to invoke a severability provision in the note, sever the confession clause, and proceed to a trial on the merits, because the CPA does not provide the remedy of voiding contracts? 4) Did the circuit court misapply Maryland law when it determined that after a confessed judgment is vacated, it is impermissible to permit a trial on the merits on an amended complaint, as that would constitute “another bite at the apple,” and that such complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 3-611(b)?

Daniel Joseph Greene v. State of Maryland – Case No. 7, September Term, 2019 (Reported COSA Opinion by Judge Moylan)

Issues – Criminal Law – 1) In a case of first impression, did CSA err in holding that Maryland adopts the “confirmatory identification” line of out-of-state cases that exempt from pre-trial constitutional review of “non-selective” identifications? 2) Did CSA err in reversing the trial court’s suppression of the identification of Petitioner, where police procedures used to obtain the identification violate due process? 3) Did CSA err in alternatively holding that the trial court failed to examine the appropriate factors in ruling the identification was inadmissible?

Joshua Sabisch v. Stephen T. Moyer et al. Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services – Case No. 6, September Term, 2019 (Unreported COSA Opinion by Judge Nazarian)

Issues – Courts & Judicial Proceedings – 1) Did CSA err in holding that Petitioner, while on probation before judgment and required as conditions of his probation to obey all laws, to have no contact with the victim, to have no unsupervised contact with children under age eighteen, to provide his current address to probation authorities, to register as a sex offender, and to report by telephone to his probation supervisor in Maryland every thirty days while residing in Michigan and to follow his supervisor’s lawful instructions, was not entitled to petition for the writ of habeas corpus pursuant to Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc, § 3-702, because he was not subject to “physical” restraint? 2) Did CSA err in holding that Petitioner, while on probation before judgment, was not entitled to petition for the writ of habeas corpus pursuant to § 3-702, because he was not present in Maryland at the time of the filing of his petition and because the conditions of Petitioner’s probation did not create a sufficient “presence” in Maryland while Petitioner was residing in Michigan? 3) Did the trial court err in denying Petitioner’s petition for writ of habeas corpus on grounds that Petitioner accepted probation before judgment and waived his right to appeal pursuant to § 6-220?

Danny Trotman v. State of Maryland – Case No. 8, September Term, 2019 (Unreported COSA Opinion by Judge Meredith)

Issue – Criminal Law – As an issue of first impression, may a judge who retired in 2014, over defense objection, excuse for cause multiple veniremen who claim to be unable to climb 25 stairs, while refusing to consider possible accommodations for dealing with the veniremen’s disabilities or health problems, in a circuit court that has 35 judges and comprises two large courthouses?

 

Randy Morquell Brown v. State of Maryland; Gianpaolo Bottini v. State of Maryland; Kitrell B. Wilson v. State of Maryland – Misc. No. 30, September Term, 2018

Certified Question from the Court of Special Appeals

Questions – 1) Does the authority granted to the courts by Criminal Law Article § 5-609.1 to modify mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug-related offenses extend to cases in which the sentences were imposed as the result of binding plea agreements and the State does not consent to modification? 2) Does the authority granted to the Courts by § 5-609.1 to modify such sentences extend to cases in which the sentences were imposed as the result of binding plea agreements in which the defendant waived his or her right to seek a modification of sentence? 3) Does § 5-609.1 require the circuit court to hold a hearing before granting or denying a motion to modify a sentence filed pursuant to the statute? 4) When does the Court of Special Appeals have jurisdiction to consider an appeal from an order denying a § 5-609.1 motion to modify a sentence?

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