January 2020 Maryland Certiorari Grants

Today, the Maryland Court of Appeals granted certiorari in one civil case and three criminal cases, including one where the State claims that a criminal defendant entered into a collusive marriage to obstruct justice and tamper with a witness.

7222 Ambassador Road, LLC v. National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, Inc.– Case No. 66, September Term, 2019 (Unreported COSA Opinion by Berger, J., dissent by Gould, J.)

Issue – Civil Procedure – Did CSA err when it affirmed the trial court’s ruling excluding all of Petitioner’s witnesses in the absence of the complaining party having filed any motion to compel or any motion for sanctions and when the trial court failed to consider or address any prejudice to the complaining party?

Walter Elenils Portillo Funes v. State of Maryland– Case No. 65, September Term, 2019 (Circuit Court Appeal)

Issues – Criminal Law – 1) Did the trial court err in denying Petitioner’s motion to exclude the chemical breath test, where Spanish-speaking Petitioner was advised of his right to decline the test in English? 2) Did the trial court err in denying Petitioner’s motion to exclude the standardized field sobriety tests, where Petitioner was a Spanish speaker but the tests were performed in English?

State of Maryland v. James Kareen Day– Case No. 67, September Term, 2019 (COSA opinion not found online)

Issues – Criminal Procedure – 1) Must a criminal defendant seeking a belated motion for modification or reduction of sentence pursuant Md. Rule 4-345(e), based on ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment, establish in the post-conviction court that he or she specifically directed trial counsel to timely file that motion? 2) Did CSA err when it reversed, as clearly erroneous, the post-conviction court’s finding that Respondent had failed to provide competent evidence that he had asked his trial counsel to file a motion for modification or reduction of sentence on his behalf?

State of Maryland v. Darrayl John Wilson– Case No. 64, September Term, 2019 (Reported COSA Opinion by Beachley, J.)

Issues – Criminal Law – 1) Regardless whether a collusive marriage confers spousal testimonial privilege, is evidence that the defendant-spouse arranged to marry in order to suppress the witness-spouse’s testimony under the cloak of privilege sufficient to satisfy the “corrupt means” element of the obstruction of justice and witness tampering statutes? 2) As a matter of first impression in Maryland, is a party to a collusive marriage precluded from invoking the spousal testimonial privilege? 3) If Respondent’s convictions are affirmed, does his conviction and sentence for witness tampering merge into his conviction and sentence for obstruction of justice, where both convictions are predicated upon one act – marrying his longtime girlfriend and the mother of his two children?

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