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Introduction to Co-Managers of the Maryland Appellate Blog.

As the Maryland appellate courts have made historic changes with their official name changes, the Maryland Appellate Blog is excited to introduce its own updates with three new Co-Managers! Read below to learn more about each co-manager, their introduction to appellate law, and vision for the Blog.

Tia L. Holmes, Esq.

I am a relatively recent graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law. I graduated in 2020. During law school, I was an editor on the Law Review, a member of the two-person William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Team, and Legislative Director for the Student Bar Association. I also became a regular volunteer with the Homeless Persons Representation Project, assisting with expungements and Veterans benefits claims.

After graduating, I clerked for the Honorable Justice Jonathan Biran at the then Court of Appeals (now Supreme Court of Maryland). When my clerkship concluded, I began my current position as an Assistant Public Defender in the Appellate Division of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender.

I began my journey in appellate law during law school. I first realized that I had a natural passion for appellate law while completing my Introduction to Advocacy course. I became extremely passionate about the issue that my hypothetical client faced and determined to make that area of law right. As a member of my moot court team, I honed my appellate advocacy skills and confirmed my interest. Thereafter, I completed a summer internship in the Appellate Division. After my internship, I knew that appellate law was where I belonged and that the Office of the Public Defender is where I should begin.

It is an honor to be a co-manager of the Maryland Appellate Blog. As a co-manager, my vision for the future of the Blog is that it continues to serve as an information source for lovers of the appellate practice. My hope is that my input, alongside Alana’s and Meaghan’s, will shed light on the practice from a new attorney’s perspective. I also hope that the Blog will demystify the appellate practice and attract diverse groups of attorneys, who may be questioning their interest in the practice.

Meaghan C. Murphy, Esq.

I graduated from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in 2017. During law school, I was a member of the Moot Court Board, Women’s Bar Association, and the Maryland Environmental Law Society, as well as the Executive Symposium and Manuscripts Editor of the Journal of Business and Technology Law. 

As a member of the Moot Court Board, and the Environmental Law Society, I was able to participate in various moot court competitions across the country, including New Orleans and in D.C. After graduation, I clerked for the Honorable Judge Douglas R. M. Nazarian at the Court of Special Appeals (now Appellate Court of Maryland “ACoM”). I had the opportunity to observe first-hand some of the best orators and litigators in Maryland on argument days, draft opinions for binding case law in Maryland, and talk face-to-face with the judges and staff of the appellate courts of Maryland on a daily basis, which gave me a true appreciation for the importance and complexity of appellate practice. Because of this, it was while clerking for Judge Nazarian that my passion for appellate practice truly ignited. After my clerkship, I entered private practice and have received the opportunity to work on several appeals, some of which were reported, which has only affirmed my passion and desire to build a practice in appellate law.

It is an honor to be a co-manager of the Maryland Appellate Blog. As a co-manager, my vision for the future of the Blog is that it continues to serve as the premier source for analysis of Maryland appellate decisions and information about appellate practice for laypeople and attorneys alike.  I share the hope of my fellow co-blog managers, Tia and Alana, that the Blog will demystify and attract diverse groups of attorneys who are new to appellate practice.

Alana R. Glover, Esq.

Although I am a recent 2020 graduate from the University of Baltimore School of Law, I have gained an array of experience in the legal field.  During law school, I served as a Thurgood Marshall Law Clerk for the Maryland Attorney General’s Office and later as a student attorney in the University of Baltimore’s Innocence Project Clinic.  Immediately following law school, I served as a Judicial Law Clerk on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals (now the Appellate Court of Maryland) for The Honorable Andrea M. Leahy.  Following my clerkship, I worked at a full-service law firm practicing general litigation before joining my current firm, Jackson Lewis, P.C. In my current position, I solely practice Labor & Employment law, from litigating state and federal employment claims to negotiating collective bargaining agreements across the country.  Additionally, I serve as the Co-Chair of the Judicial Nominating Committee of the Alliance of Black Women Attorneys and as an associate member of the Cole-Davidson American Inn of Court, “founded in 2022 to promote diversity, civility, ethics, and excellence in appellate advocacy.”

Despite having general knowledge about the judicial system before law school, as a first-generation law student, I lacked exposure to how appellate practice shapes the law.  I directly experienced the significance of appellate practice, specifically in the State of Maryland, through my judicial clerkship.  There I discovered my love for the appellate practice. As a result of my experience, I also gained a passion for increasing diversity in the appellate community.  Consequently, I became involved with The Appellate Project (TAP), a national non-profit whose mission is to “empower law students of color to thrive in the appellate field.” I have served as a mentor in the program since 2021.

As a co-manager for the Maryland Appellate Blog, my vision is to continue to provide critical updates from the Supreme Court of Maryland and the Appellate Court of Maryland.  I also hope to support the Blog’s editors and readers, alongside my colleagues Tia and Meaghan, in successfully navigating the evolving legal determinations and significant decisions rendered by Maryland’s appellate courts.  Lastly, I want to represent and encourage diverse practitioners from various genders, races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and experience levels seeking to become active in Maryland’s appellate practice.

Talking About Maryland’s Appellate Courts in the Past Tense

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

Last month, Maryland voters approved a constitutional amendment renaming our appellate courts—with the Court of Appeals becoming the Supreme Court of Maryland, and the Court of Special Appeals becoming the Appellate Court of Maryland. Judges of the Supreme Court of Maryland will now be “Justices.”

Since then, lawyers have kept asking me the same question: “If I’m discussing a pre-name-change decision, do I use the new names and titles?”

Read More…

Maryland Appellate Courts’ “Highlighted Cases” Pages Offer a Primer on Motions Practice

By Diane E. Feuerherd

Motions are seldom the feature of an appellate opinion, but often play a prominent role in moving your case, efficiently and effectively, through the appellate process. Title 8 of the Maryland Rules, in Rules 8-431, 8-603 and others, impose requirements on the motion’s timing, scope, contents and appearance, as well as any response. The court may rule quickly, particularly when the motion is filed before the brief, and even dismiss an appeal on the court’s own initiative (see Rule 8-602(a)). While you may be looking forward to the next edition of the Appellate Practice for the Maryland Lawyer: State and Federal, for updates on the Motions Practice in State Appellate Courts chapter (as the author of that chapter, I certainly am!), consider in the meantime the “Highlighted Cases” pages of the Court of Appeals and Court of Special Appeals, each providing in real time examples of motions, responses and rulings. These websites are a helpful primer to appellate practitioners, whether you are seasoned or green.

In other news, the Maryland Appellate Blog wishes to congratulate one of our own, Brad McCullough, on his appointment to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. He has been a Blog editor and colleague since we started in 2013. We will miss him, but our loss is Maryland’s gain.

MSBA Appellate Practice Skills Program: July 18, 20 & 21

The MSBA, joined by the editors of the Appellate Practice for the Maryland Lawyer: State and Federal (Paul Mark Sandler, Andrew D. Levy, and Steven M. Klepper), judges of the Court of Appeals and Court of Special Appeals, practitioners, and representatives from the Office of the Public Defender and Office of the Attorney General, are introducing a comprehensive appellate practice skills workshop. The three-day virtual event will run on Monday July 18, Wednesday, July 20 and Thursday July 21. For a full agenda, list of presenters and registration information, click here.

Maryland Courts Spring Forward with In-Person Oral Arguments in March and New Appellate Rules for April 2022

(Update: On February 25, 2022, the Court of Appeals issued two notices regarding COVID-19 related protocols for oral arguments: (1) Protocols for oral arguments on March 3 & 4, 2022; and (2) Protocols for oral arguments on March 7 & 8, 2022).

By Michael Wein

It appears all the appellate Courts for Maryland are returning for in-person oral arguments by March 2022.  This has some déjà vu from a previous “optimistic” blog post, pre-Delta and pre-Omicron variant,  from June 2021.  There will hopefully not be any further quick and surprising Court shutdowns, as my August 2021 post relayed.  Additionally, as discussed below, new appellate Rules have been approved in the past month by the Maryland Court of Appeals, taking effect on April 1, 2022, applying to many upcoming appellate Briefs.

In-Person Oral Argument Updates

In the past few weeks, there has been an announcement of in-person orals in the following courts for Maryland practitioners:

  1. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has posted “[t]he Court will hold its March 2022 oral arguments in-person at the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building.  Counsel in cases scheduled for March arguments will receive notice from the Clerk with oral argument protocols.”  This is after a few months of Remote arguments due to the Omicron variant.
  2. The Federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals after a few months reverting to the Zoom hearings due to Omicron, will have in-person oral arguments for their March 8-11, 2022 Session, in Richmond, Virginia.
  3. The Maryland Court of Appeals has not yet specified if their March 2022 oral arguments are to be in-person.  However, with the Friday, Feb. 18, 2022’s Orders from Chief Judge Joseph Getty, the State of Maryland is resuming Phase 5 normal operations, including jury trials on March 7, 2022.  It would thus be unsurprising if an announcement is received any day.   It is possible that some of the oral arguments scheduled from March 3 through March 8, 2022, might be done remotely via Zoom, but my anticipation, particularly with the Court of Special Appeals’ announcement, they will all be done in-person, assuming the participating attorneys have confirmed availability, are not suffering COVID-symptoms, and are properly vaccinated.
Read More…

In-Person Appellate Oral Arguments Ended Suddenly with a Bang, and are Restarting Slowly with Anticipated Full Strength in the Fall.

By: Michael Wein

What happened in March 2020 was an abrupt departure for everyone, and a surprisingly long segue from normal.  This post provides an update.   As outlined in detail in previous posts for this Blog,  the Maryland and Federal Appellate Courts (which include Maryland), suddenly postponed Oral arguments in March 2020.  They also had the unenviable task transitioning to Remote Oral Arguments for the first time.  It’s been that way for about a year.

Assuming T.S. Eliot is a legal authority (he’s not, but fun to quote) and as a matter of transitive logic, a “bang” wouldn’t signify the end of the world…only a whimper.   Thus, there will be a resumption of normal. [1]

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The Singular “They” Reaches the White House, But Not the Appellate Courts

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

Within hours of his inauguration, President Biden signed his Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. The Executive Order began:

Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love. Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports. Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes. People should be able to access healthcare and secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination. All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Focus on the first sentence. It uses the singular “they,” instead of “he or she,” to refer to an indeterminate person. That’s no coincidence in an order addressing discrimination based on gender identity.

The phrase “he or she” rests on the erroneous assumption that everyone is either a “he” or a “she.” Non-binary individuals do not identify as men or women. The easy fix is to write in plain English and use the singular “they,” just like the White House does.

I’ve written on this issue before—urging judges to abandon “he or she” and expressly embrace the singular “they” (in the same way they endorsed the “cleaned up” parenthetical). My proposal made no headway, so far as I can tell. The phrase “he or she” continues to appear regularly in Maryland appellate opinions. In the words of Arlo Guthrie, however, “I’m not proud … or tired.”

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The Singular “They” in Legal Writing

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

There are few writing conventions as cumbersome as “he or she.” It’s not natural English. If you were to see the silhouette of a backlit person on the street, would you ask, “Who is he or she?” Or, like a normal person, would you ask, “Who are they?”

Nevertheless, teachers and professors drilled into me that the singular “they” was barbarism. The one exception was a common phrase like “to each their own,” because “to each his or her own” was an awkward bridge too far. “He or she” was necessary to be both inclusive and grammatically correct, even as writing otherwise moved in the direction of natural language.

This issue arises frequently in legal writing, which often involves discussions about a hypothetical individual, such as the “reasonable person.” I’ve used tricks to avoid the “he or she” problem. “If a Marylander wishes to apply for a license, he or she must first do X,” easily becomes “If Marylanders wish to apply for licenses, they must first do X.” But that work-around can be awkward, especially when overused.

It’s also a cop out. My family (traditional and chosen) includes non-binary people who use they/them pronouns. It’s important to non-binary people that we use their correct pronouns. It can cause them genuine distress to insist on using binary pronouns.

I’m sure some will read this post and cry “political correctness!” When it comes to legal writing, however, it’s a matter of legal correctness. Read More…

What Kim Kardashian and Prince William Can Teach Us About Remote Oral Arguments

By Derek Stikeleather

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us all innumerable “new normals.” Even appellate practitioners, whom the Daily Record recently described as “relatively unscathed” by the pandemic, have had to change how they conduct business. This is especially so when it comes time to present oral arguments. Read More…

Facing Type: A Tour of the Court of Appeals’ List of Suggested Fonts for Briefs

By John Grimm

The Daily Record recently informed me that the Governor’s stay at home order has left appellate lawyers “generally unscathed.”[1]  “Indeed,” I thought to myself, while downstairs my eleven-month-old patiently waited a full workday as I edited a brief.  Actually, working from home has left at least this appellate lawyer a bit scathed, so I’ve had little time to study the appellate news lately.  And what news there is seems to be all about courts’ new emergency procedures anyway, so in this post, I am going to address a topic that is irrelevant to current events, but which is a preoccupation for many appellate lawyers: typography. Read More…