Archive by Author | MdAppBlog

Is Evidence of Innocence Exculpatory Enough?

By: Isabelle Raquin

The Maryland Supreme Court’s last opinion of 2022, Carver v. State, 482 Md. 469 (2022) (Hotten, J.) (Gould, J., dissenting), analyzed the cumulative impact of newly discovered evidence and held that the newly discovered evidence did not “speak to” petitioner’s innocence, and therefore, did not require granting a writ of actual innocence. However, Justice Gould’s pointed dissent illustrates the existing controversy over the application of the standard for how much newly discovered evidence is enough to warrant a new trial. Both the Majority and the Dissent agreed on the standard to apply.  Still, in practical terms, does a petitioner have to show that the State’s evidence of guilt is insufficient? That is precisely how Justice Gould reads the Majority’s application of the standard, which effectively raises the bar for petitioners and turns the “substantial possibility of a different outcome” test into the functional equivalent of a preponderance of the evidence standard.

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Inferring Knowledge From Presumed Knowledge

By Chris Mincher

“Knowledge” might seem to be a pretty basic concept: A person either knows something or doesn’t know something. But, of course, there are precious few truly basic concepts in the law, and even a question as to what a person knows can get tricky once all the presumptions and inferences start getting worked into it. One of these — the so-called “deliberate indifference” doctrine — split the judges in the recent Appellate Court case of Woodall v. State, but the case also shed light on a premise I hadn’t previously been aware of: that presumed knowledge of the law can also support a finding that a defendant was willfully ignorant about its consequences.

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More March 2023 Maryland Certiorari Grants (Updated)

On March 7, 2023, the Supreme Court of Maryland granted review in an additional two cases (one criminal appeal and one civil appeal), which have been assigned for argument during the September 2023 Term.  Those cases, with questions presented, are below. Also, on March 6, the Supreme Court granted review in one more case, an expedited civil appeal about whether a schoolteacher may serve on the Harford County Board of Education.

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SCM to Hold Arguments Outside Annapolis Once Per Year

By Tia L. Holmes

On March 2, 2023, the Supreme Court of Maryland issued an Administrative Order declaring that the Court will sit temporarily outside of the City of Annapolis at least one day each term beginning with the September 2023 Term. In the Order, the Supreme Court designates secondary or post-secondary educational institutions within Maryland as their locations of choice. The Court will first sit at an institution located in the Fourth Appellate Judicial Circuit (Prince George’s County), which is represented by Justice Michele D. Hotten, and will rotate in numerical order of the circuits in the future terms. According to the Order, Justice Hotten will recommend an institution to host the oral arguments, and, upon approval of the full Court, the Court will sit at the recommended location.

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March 2023 Maryland Certiorari Grants & Certified Questions

On March 2, 2023, the Supreme Court of Maryland granted review in four cases (three criminal appeals and one civil appeal), along with two certified questions. The Supreme Court granted review in an additional civil appeal on March 6, 2023. Those cases, with questions presented, are below.

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Whren, Whren, Go Away . . .

By Tia L. Holmes[*]

Early last month, the Appellate Court of Maryland issued its unreported opinion in Snyder v. State, App. Ct. of Md., Sept. Term 2021, No. 1127 (Feb. 3, 2023). Snyder involved a pretextual traffic stop that the Court concluded was authorized by Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996). During the traffic stop, Mr. Snyder’s vehicle was searched, and the fruit of that search led to his arrest and subsequent conviction. The Court reversed Mr. Snyder’s conviction because the evidence that was used to convict him had been seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Concurring with the Court’s decision, Judge Dan Friedman wrote separately to express his views regarding Whren and to urge the Supreme Court of Maryland to abandon the failed federal doctrine established in Whren.

In a previous post about the Snyder opinion, Maryland Appellate Blog editor Chris Mincher left an open invitation for a discussion about Judge Friedman’s concurrence. I accepted his invitation because, in my opinion, Judge Friedman’s concurrence is the most important part of the Court’s decision.

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Lessons After the First 60 Days of 2023 with the Appellate and Supreme Courts of Maryland

By Carrie Williams

As most people know, in November 2022, Maryland voters approved a constitutional amendment changing the names of the appellate courts. On December 14, 2022, the switch flipped—the Court of Appeals became the Supreme Court of Maryland, and the Court of Special Appeals became the Appellate Court of Maryland. Judges of the Supreme Court of Maryland became “Justices.”

Whether you welcomed this change because it reduces confusion (“wait, so the Court of Special Appeals hears everything?”) or you were fine with the old names and saw no reason to upset the apple cart, the deed is done. Supreme Court of Maryland and Appellate Court of Maryland it is. The only question at this point is one that Steve Klepper wrote about back in December: how to refer to the appellate courts in the past tense?

When Steve wrote his post, the name change was not yet official, and the courts had offered no guidance. We thought perhaps there would be an official policy statement, or a style guide expressing preferences based upon the circumstances. To my knowledge, no such policy or statement of preferences has been issued. What we have now that we didn’t have in December, however, is opinions written by the courts under the new name regime. I have done an unofficial survey of the opinions (published and unpublished) written between December 14, 2022 and February 8, 2023. Here is what I learned:

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Argument Panel: Proposed New Rule on Citing Unreported ACM Opinions

“After much debate,” the 214th Report of the Maryland Rules Committee proposes to amend Rule 1-104, which has long prohibited citation to unreported Maryland appellate decisions as precedent or as persuasive authority. The new Rule 1-104(a)(2)(B) would provide that, unless “designated as a per curiam opinion, an unreported opinion of the Appellate Court issued after [effective date of Rule] may be cited for its persuasive value only if no reported authority adequately addresses an issue before the court.” The comment period ends March 1, 2023, and the proposal will then go to the Supreme Court of Maryland for its consideration.

In what is hopefully the first of a recurring feature, we’ve polled our editorial board to get their views of the new rule.

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Maryland Supreme Court to Consider New Rules Allowing For First Time, Full Citation For Persuasive Value to Most Unreported Opinions

By Michael Wein

For the first time, the Maryland Rules Committee has recommended Unreported Opinions in Maryland be cited for “persuasive value” under Maryland Rule 1-104.   Part of the given Rule change’s rationale, was the Maryland Supreme Court does not consider itself as limited in citations, as at Maryland’s intermediate Appellate Court of Maryland.   See Blog post dated 2/19/2020 discussing apparent contrary use of unreported opinions by Maryland Supreme Court. There remains some uncertainty as to the final version, as described below.   This comes after a September 2022 Rules committee meeting, became publicly available about 2 weeks ago, as part of the 214th Report.   The listed deadline for Comment to the Maryland Supreme Court is on March 1, 2023, with an open meeting scheduled for March 23, 2023.

The concerns about reforming Maryland’s Unreported Opinion Rule are long-running and also previously discussed in previous posts here (on recent Maryland Supreme Court decision), here (on 2015 Rules proposal to allow them on Case Search, but restricting their use from other jurisdictions for first time), and here (Rules Committee dropping 2015 restrictions after criticism).   The Federal Courts got rid of any Local Rules with a prohibition against citations for persuasive value back on January 1, 2007.   This present iteration, is the first time the Rules Committee has proposed doing away with the unreported opinion citation Rule. 

However, with 15 years of Federal appellate Courts managing the Rule change, the Rules Committee, has chosen to not follow the Federal model of a simple removal of the prohibition as all Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal now have, with citations available online.  Instead, like the 2015 version, the Maryland Rules Committee seems to exchange more transparency for “granting” unreported opinion citations, by creating a much more complex Rule in its place. 

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February 2023 Maryland Certiorari Grants

On Thursday February 23, 2023, the Supreme Court of Maryland granted review of one family law case. The certiorari grant, with links to the Appellate Court of Maryland opinion under review, are below.

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