January 2022 Maryland Certiorari Grants

The Maryland Court of Appeals today granted certiorari in four civil cases and two criminal cases.

Pedro Steven Buarque de Macedo v. The Automobile Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut – Case No. 52, September Term, 2021 (Unreported COSA Opinion by Judge Kehoe)

Issue – Courts & Judicial Proceedings – Does Md. Code § 5-806 of the Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article render the household exclusion clause in an umbrella policy void, up to the limits of motor vehicle liability coverage, as to motor vehicle personal injury or wrongful death claims of unemancipated children or estates of such children against their parent?

Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Inc., et al. v. CREG Westport I, LLC, et al. – Case No. 53, September Term, 2021 (Reported COSA Opinion by Judge Wells)

Issues – Environmental Law – 1) Do the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act require an opportunity for direct appeal of an approved forest conservation plan? 2) Does the approval of a forest conservation plan constitute a final agency action subject to judicial review?

Robert Rainey v. State of Maryland – Case No. 54, September Term, 2021 (Reported COSA Opinion by Judge Arthur)

Issues – Criminal Law – 1) As a matter of first impression, can a suspect’s change in appearance (in this case, a change in hairstyle) at some point between the time of the crime and the time of his arrest, support a destruction-of-evidence jury instruction? 2) Under the four-inference test adopted in Thompson v. State, 393 Md. 291 (2006), consciousness-of-guilt jury instructions may not be given unless evidence supports all four of the necessary inferences. As a matter of first impression, is a trial judge required to consider the four inferences on the record before giving a consciousness-of-guilt jury instruction, here a destruction-of-evidence instruction? 3) Even if the trial court is not required to state its reasoning regarding the four inferences on the record: (a) was it improper to give the instruction in this case where the evidence did not support the four inferences because petitioner had not been charged or arrested at the time of his haircut and there was no evidence that he was aware that he was the subject of an investigation, and (b) is reversal required where there is no indication in the record that the trial court considered the four Thompson inferences? 4) Did CSA err in holding that although “it is preferable, in all cases in which a defendant has allegedly changed his appearance in order to avoid identification, to employ a custom instruction that focuses on the change of appearance as potential evidence of consciousness of guilt,” the giving of the destruction-of-evidence instruction was harmless in this case because a different modified instruction that does not include the language “You have heard evidence that the defendant destroyed evidence” could have been given but was not? 5) Was giving the destruction-of-evidence jury instruction harmless error where the pattern instruction was not modified, the prosecutor relied on the instruction in closing argument, the jury asked multiple questions during deliberations regarding changes in Petitioner’s appearance, and significant evidence pointed to the guilt of another party?

The Town of Upper Marlboro v. The Prince George’s County Council – Case No. 55, September Term, 2021 (Unreported COSA Opinion by Judge Zic)

Issues – Land Use – 1) Was CR-72-2019 a final appealable decision that had to be challenged within 30 days of finality as required by Md. Code § 22-407 of the Land Use Article? 2) Was Petitioner’s appeal of CR-98-2019 sufficient to challenge the deficiencies in CR-72-2019? 3) Was the decision of the County Council sitting as the District Council deficient in setting for the purpose and scope of the minor amendment in the initiating resolution (CR-72-2019) as required by Section 27-642 of the Prince George’s County Code?

State of Maryland v. Juan Pablo B. – Case No. 56, September Term, 2021 (Reported COSA Opinion by Judge Leahy)

Issue – Criminal Procedure – Did CSA err in holding that a trial court’s failure to comply with Maryland Rule 4-346(a) when imposing a period of probation results in an “illegal sentence” within the contemplation of Maryland Rule 4-345(a)?

Andrea Jo Hancock, et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, et al. – Case No. 57, September Term, 2021 (Unreported COSA Opinion by Judge Gould)

Issues – Torts – 1) Does an employer’s duty to exercise reasonable care in hiring an independent contractor extend to employees of the independent contractor? 2) When a contractor recognizes dangerous job site conditions, does the contractor owe a duty to employees of a co-contractor to identify, warn against, or mitigate the hazard?

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