The Certified Questions Keep on Coming

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

Maryland law allows federal courts to certify questions of state law to the Maryland Court of Appeals. Each annual term, going back to 2014, the Court of Appeals has heard between one and three cases on certification from the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland.

Last week, in United States v. Dickson, the Fourth Circuit certified the following question to the Court of Appeals: “Under Maryland Law, can an individual be convicted of robbery by means of threatening force against property or threatening to accuse the victim of having committed sodomy?”

Dickson is the sixth case that federal courts have certified to the Court of Appeals for the term beginning September 1, 2021. The Court of Appeals had already accepted questions certified by the U.S. District Court in five civil cases. By comparison, the Court of Appeals has granted certiorari review in 23 cases for the 2021 Term so far.

It’s too soon to tell whether this sharp increase reflects a trend or is statistical noise.

For anyone who is interested, here is a list of cases in which the Court of Appeals has accepted certified questions from federal courts since the 2014 Term.

Docket No.CaptionCertifying Court
COA-MISC-0001-2014 Joseph Antonio, et al. v. SSA Security, Inc. d/b/a Security Services of America 4th Cir.
COA-MISC-0002-2014 Patriot Electric and Mechanical, Inc. v. Manufactures and Traders Trust Company Bankr. D. Md.
COA-MISC-0005-2014 Roger Schlossberg, Chapter 7 Trustee v. Bell Builders Remodeling, Inc., et al. Bankr. D. Md.
COA-MISC-0002-2015 Midland Funding, LLC v. Cassandra A Murray D. Md.
COA-MISC-0019-2015 Edward J. and Vicki Fangman, et al. v. Genuine Title, LLC, et al. D. Md.
COA-MISC-0012-2016 Parameshwar Mahasreshti v. Matthew Miller et al. D. Md.
COA-MISC-0001-2017Quanta Brownlee, et al. v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co., et al. D. Md.
COA-MISC-0004-2017 Amber Ben-Davies v. Blibaum & Associates, P.A. Bryione K. Moore v. Blibaum & Associates, P.A. D. Md.
COA-MISC-0001-2018William Price, et al v. Ralph M. Murdy, et al. D. Md.
COA-MISC-0006-2019 Baltimore City Police Department, et al. v. Ivan PottsD. Md.
COA-MISC-0010-2019 Desiree Berry and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. v. Andrae Queen, and others similarly situatedD. Md.
COA-MISC-0001-2020United Bank v. Richard Buckingham, et al.D. Md.
COA-MISC-0008-2020In re: Anthony D. Walker and Denicia P. Walker Bankr. D. Md.
COA-MISC-0013-2020First United Corporation v. Driver Opportunity Partners I, LP, et al. D. Md.
COA-MISC-0001-2021Paul Moore v. RealPage Utility Management, Inc.D. Md.
COA-MISC-0003-2021Jabari Morese Lyles v. Santander Consumer USA Inc.D. Md.
COA-MISC-0004-2021Westfield Insurance Company v. Michael GilliamD. Md.
COA-MISC-0005-2021Jesse J. Murphy, et al. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.D. Md.
COA-MISC-0006-2021 Nagle & Zaller, P.C., et al. v. Jahmal E. Delegall, et al.D. Md.
COA-MISC-0007-2021Joel Adam Dickson v. United States of America4th Cir.

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