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COSA Dissent Watch: Circumstantial evidence of lead paint in the post-Rowhouses world

By Chris Mincher

The case: Murphy v. Ellison, Sept. Term 2015, No. 0822 (Aug. 23, 2016) (unreported)

The questions: Can a plaintiff in a lead-paint case establish a property as a reasonably probable source of exposure without expert testimony or inspections of the property? Can the age of a house or its components establish that the property probably had lead paint? Can evidence of lead paint on the exterior of a home be evidence of lead paint on the interior?

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COSA Dissent Watch: Marijuana Odors and Pat-Downs

By Chris Mincher

The case: Norman v. State, Sept. Term 2015, No. 1408 (Aug. 11, 2016)

The questions: Was the odor of marijuana effectively the only justification for a police officer’s alleged belief that a passenger in a vehicle was armed and dangerous? If so, is that belief reasonable for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment?

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COSA Dissent Watch: Plea Bargains That Ignore Mandatory Probation

By Chris Mincher

The case: Crawley v. State, Sept. Term 2013, No. 0467 (Aug. 8, 2016)

The questions: If a plea agreement would be invalid without the inclusion of probation, is probation an implied term of the agreement? If a plea agreement is invalid because it provides for an illegal sentence, can a trial court, sua sponte, increase the sentence to make it legal? If a plea agreement is invalid for failure to include probation, is a defendant’s renegotiation of the plea limited to the addition of probation, or can he renegotiate the entire agreement?

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COSA Dissent Watch: Post-mistrial Acquittals and Double Jeopardy

By Chris Mincher

The case: State v. Johnson, Sept. Term 2015, No. 0189 (June 29, 2016)

The questions: Does a circuit court have fundamental jurisdiction to acquit a defendant after the grant of a mistrial? Does such an acquittal bar further prosecution even if court relies on evidence that is technically not before it?

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COSA Dissent Watch: Questioning Police Officer Testimony and Bias in Voir Dire

By Chris Mincher

The case: Lapole v. State, Sept. Term 2014, No. 2169 (June 27, 2016)

The questions: Can a voir dire question about bias regarding testimony of police officers reference other professions as well? Is the failure to properly give that question subject to harmless-error review?

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COSA Dissent Watch: Defining a “Collection Agency”

[Dissents in the Court of Special Appeals are, as we’ve noted here before, an infrequent thing — but quite useful. Many times, disagreement in the intermediate court portends consideration and resolution by the Court of Appeals, or highlights thorny issues that appellate practitioners can take up in future cases. In this new feature, the Blog tracks and analyzes split decisions at the Court of Special Appeals.]

By Chris Mincher

The case: Old Republic Ins. Co. v. Gordon, No. 1020 (Sept. Term 2014)

The question: Did the circuit court err in its construction of the phrase “collection agency” under BR § 7-101(c)?

The facts: Old Republic Insurance Company sold Countrywide Home Loans a “credit insurance policy,” pursuant to which Old Republic would pay for losses caused by defaults in loans held by Countrywide; in return, Countrywide would subrogate its rights of recovery to Old Republic. Countrywide submitted a claim for Nancy Gordon’s default on her approximately $70,000 loan, and Old Republic paid it. Old Republic then exercised its subrogation rights to pursue repayment.

The company filed suit in circuit court and moved for summary judgment. Ms. Gordon opposed the motion on the grounds that, under Maryland law, Old Republic was barred from bringing its claims because it was acting as a collection agency subject to the Maryland Collection Agency Licensing Act but wasn’t licensed to do so. The court agreed and granted summary judgment to Ms. Gordon.

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A Few Thoughts on Adnan Syed’s Opening Brief

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

[Update: A reader, David Lease, pointed out to me the 4-3 decision in Stachowski v State, 416 Md. 276(2010), which appears to negate the possibility of bypass. Thanks to David and boo to Stachowski .]

I had a chance today to read Adnan Syed’s opening brief, filed Monday in the Court of Special Appeals. I have two quick thoughts. Read More…

How to Speed Up the Serial Appeal

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

[Update: A reader, David Lease, pointed out to me the 4-3 decision in Stachowski v State, 416 Md. 276(2010), which appears to negate the possibility of bypass. Thanks to David and boo to Stachowski.]

Fans of the Serial podcast received some good news and some bad news this weekend. The good news: the Court of Special Appeals granted Adnan Syed’s application for leave to appeal. His ineffective assistance of counsel claim will be heard on the merits during the court’s June 2015 sitting. But there was bad news for those who had trouble waiting between Serial installments: final resolution is going to take a while. As Sarah Koenig explained on her blog: Read More…

The Fourth Circuit May Have Quietly Set Up Supreme Court Cert Review on Judicial Recusals

By Michael Wein

An easily overlooked set of Opinions and Orders in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, those in United States v. Jeffrey Sterling, (at least when considered together), appears to have gone mostly unnoticed in the blogosphere. It involves an unlikely combination of Certworthy issues for the Supreme Court, not just on the scope of a potential privilege and/or 1st Amendment rights that exists for reporters to obtain and keep secret information received from confidential sources, but to include the ethics issue for Judicial Recusal, at least with respect to the intervenor, New York Times reporter James Risen, and a host of Amici groups, including the Times, Washington Post, Tribune Company, and CNN. (Actually, most major media companies in the U.S.). Read More…