December 2020 Maryland Certiorari Grants

Yesterday the Court of Appeals granted review in three civil cases and one criminal case. The civil appeals run a wide range: family law, administrative law, and local governments’ tort liability. The list is below, with the questions presented and links to the Court of Special Appeals opinions.

Angel Enterprises Limited Partnership, et al v. Talbot County, Maryland, et al – Case No. 45, September Term, 2020 (Unreported COA Opinion by Judge Graeff)

Issues – Local Codes – 1) Did the Board of Appeals (“Board”) violate Petitioners’ due process rights by requiring Petitioners to bear the burden of proof (including the burdens of persuasion and going forward with the evidence) to explain Respondent’s basis for its actions and also to disprove the propriety and amount of Respondent’s civil penalties? 2) Did the Board err in imposing penalties on a daily, continuing basis, including for days when no violative conduct occurred, and while Petitioners were exercising their right to challenge Respondent’s allegations and attempt to impose penalties? 3) Did the Board err in finding that Respondent has the legal authority to impose continuing violation penalties where the Express Powers Act limits the County’s ability to impose fines and does not authorize penalties for continuing violations? 4) Did the Board err in determining that the civil penalties imposed by Respondent were stayed upon the filing of Petitioners’ appeal pursuant to Talbot County Code §§ 58-12A(3) and 20-6B(3)? 5) Are the civil penalties sought by Respondent unconstitutionally excessive in violation of the Article 25 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights and the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution? 6) Should an appellate court decide an issue of judicial estoppel that occurred during the judicial review period after an administrative decision (and not remand to the administrative body for review)?

E.N. v. T.R. – Case No. 44, September Term, 2020 (Reported COSA Opinion by Judge Beachley)

Issue – Family Law – When a de facto parentship is formed and fostered at the behest of one legal parent without the knowledge or consent of the other legal parent, does the non-consenting parent retain her superior claim to custody, protected by the substantive component of the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, against the de facto parent, thereby requiring the de facto parent to prove that the non-consenting parent is unfit or that exceptional circumstances exist?

David Esteppe, et al. v. Baltimore City Police Department – Case No. 47, September Term, 2020 (Reported COSA Opinion by Chief Judge Fader)

Issues – Courts & Judicial Proceedings – 1) Under the first prong of the scope of employment test, does a police officer act in the scope of employment when he performs traditional law enforcement functions with mixed motives? 2) Did CSA err when it declined to rule upon Respondent’s argument that Petitioner should be judicially estopped from arguing that the officer’s motivation was professional when, at the liability trial, Petitioner argued repeatedly that the officer’s motivation was purely personal and the trial court accepted that argument in order to find the officer liable for civil conspiracy?

Charles Edward Wallace v. State of Maryland – Case No. 46, September Term, 2020 (Reported COSA Opinion by Judge Berger)

Issues – Criminal Law – 1) When reviewing whether trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel, is it proper for a reviewing court to evaluate prejudice by determining whether deficient performance would have been ameliorated had the error been brought to the trial court’s attention? 2) Did CSA err in advising post-conviction courts that the cumulative effect theory – i.e., the theory that prejudice under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), may be found by considering the collective impact of multiple instances of deficient performance – has “exceedingly narrow” application? 3) Did CSA err in holding that defense counsel’s failure to object to an erroneous instruction on attempted second-degree murder required the reversal of only that conviction, that defense counsel did not prejudice Petitioner when she failed to object to the disclosure to the jury that Petitioner had previously been convicted of a crime of violence, and/or that trial counsel’s failure to object to alleged bad-acts/other-crimes evidence constituted neither deficient performance nor conduct prejudicing Petitioner?

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