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An Excellent New Resource on the 1867 Maryland Constitutional Convention

Baltimore attorney John J. Connolly, a prolific writer, has self-published an invaluable volume, Republican Press at a Democratic Convention: Reports of the 1867 Maryland Constitutional Convention.

Connolly, who annotates the 1867 reports published by the Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser, begins with this commentary: Read More…

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What was the “First” Appellate Court in the Colonial Americas?

By Michael Wein

With the coming New Year, reflection and reexamination on the past is natural, to understand and fully appreciate the challenges and hopes for the coming year. At least in Maryland, the history of “appeals” has not been the focus of determinate scholarly debate, internally, or in comparison to other jurisdictions.  For example, did you know that appellate courts in the Colonial Americas may have preexisted Thanksgiving, and that the first appellate court continues to be the subject of debate?

If this were the game show Jeopardy! and the “Answer” was “[t]his was the first appellate court established in the Western Hemisphere,” many people might instinctively say the United States Supreme Court.  However, it is certainly not the Supreme Court, as part of the U.S. Constitution, Congress’ 1789 Judiciary Act, and a first “session” with Justices in 1790.  Instead, the correct response choices include not only Massachusetts (including Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies), but also Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania in North America, and the Real Audiencia in Latin America.  These are all “colonial” appellate courts tracing to at least the 1600s, well-before the Supreme Court.  A brief description of each contender follows.
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Remembering Judge Howard S. Chasanow

By Brandon Moore

We mourn the loss of Judge Howard S. Chasanow, a former judge on the Court of Appeals of Maryland, who died on April 2.  I had the privilege to hear Judge Chasanow speak in October 2014 at the portrait and chief judge transition ceremony for his wife, Judge Deborah K. Chasanow, a senior judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.  Judge Chasanow joked about his wife’s aversion to the spotlight, even at an event held in her honor.  “It’s hard to give speeches about people who won’t let you talk about them,” he quipped.  That night, Judge Chasanow displayed the same charm that many lawyers had come to admire.

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Event: The Maryland Court of Appeals – Pulling back the drapes on Oz

From the MSBA website (registration here):

The State and Local Government Law Section will convene at the Court of Appeals to hear from the Hon. Robert N. McDonald, the Hon. Michele D. Hotten, and the Hon. Joseph M. Getty as they share their thoughts about the history of the court and, in particular, government lawyers appearing before the court.

Hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

The price is $25 for members who register before March 24, and $40 thereafter. (The price for non-members is $35/$50 depending on when they register)

Location
Court of Appeals
Cost
Section Member : $25
Non-Member : $35
Contact
Theresa Michael
Organization
MSBA State and Local Government Law Section

Remembering a Mentor

By Karen Federman Henry

Anyone who has clerked for a judge knows that a special bond develops during that relationship. For a budding attorney, a clerkship provides one of the first opportunities to gain insights into the practice of law. The perspective of a judge can form a strong foundation for a law clerk’s future pursuit of a law practice. I had the good fortune to serve as a law clerk to the Hon. Rosalyn B. Bell when she sat on the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. With her passing in August, and a memorial service in October, it seemed like a good time to reflect on the impact she had on her clerks, the legal profession, and the practice of law.

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Five Nominated to Maryland Court of Appeals

By Chris Mincher

A little more than a month after nine applied for Judge Battaglia’s seat on the Court of Appeals, the pool has been whittled to five nominations. Unsurprisingly, the only sitting Court of Special Appeals judge, the Hon. Kathryn Grill Graeff, got a golden ticket, as did the Hon. Donald E. Beachley of the Washington County Circuit Court, a former magistrate judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Two private practitioners are in the mix as well: Thomas Edward Lynch, III, a principal at Miles & Stockbridge, and Andrew David Levy, a partner at Brown Goldstein Levy and co-author of Appellate Practice for the Maryland Lawyer.

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Judging Taney: A Response to Josh Blackman

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

As Josh Blackman has covered at his blog, a Baltimore City commission has recommended removing the statue of Chief Justice Roger Taney from the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood.

This event calls to mind an exchange I had with a then-professor at Goucher College in 1994. When he expressed sarcastic pride that a Marylander, Taney, wrote the Dred Scott decision,[1] I asked, “Wasn’t Taney otherwise considered a great justice?” He shot back: “How was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” Point taken.

I favor removing the statue, but we should ask serious questions before cutting symbolic ties with Taney. Read More…

A Brief Legal History of Baltimore Riots

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

Wracked by feelings of powerlessness regarding Baltimore’s recent troubles, I did one thing I know how to do – I wrote a blog post.[1] I’ve seen debates on social media whether to label the events of this past week a “protest” or a “riot.” It’s a false dichotomy. We’ve had both protests and riots. And my adopted home city in fact has a long history of riots and litigation arising out of them. The decisions of the Court of Appeals of Maryland teach much about the history of Baltimore riots. Read More…

Monster-At-Law: The Halloween Quiz

By Chris Mincher

It’s Halloween — have you picked out a costume of the most frightening, evil, wicked thing you can think of? If that means you’re dressing up this year as Justice McReynolds, we’ve got the perfect holiday distraction for you. Before co-mingling with them this evening, check out the quiz below and test your knowledge of the various supernatural creatures that have previously lurked through Maryland’s appellate jurisprudence.

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Could Clarence Thomas Be Questioning Whether Citizens United Binds the States?

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

One of the more surprising denials of certiorari this past term at the U.S. Supreme Court was in Iowa Right to Life Comm. v. Tooker. There, the Eighth Circuit, applying FEC v. Beaumont, 539 U.S. 146 (2003), upheld an Iowa law that bans direct corporate contributions to political campaigns but permits such contributions by unions. Over at the Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen noted that Beaumont’s days appear to be numbered under recent Supreme Court election law decisions, but he concluded Chief Justice Roberts “is playing the long game, not wanting to move quickly.”

I agree that Chief Justice Roberts is playing the long game, but it only takes four justices to grant certiorari. In Beaumont itself, Justices Kennedy (concurring in the judgment) and Justices Scalia and Thomas (dissenting) telegraphed a willingness to reexamine the ban on corporate giving in a future case. It’s difficult to see why Justice Alito, having since joined the Court, would hesitate to vote to grant review in Iowa Right to Life, particularly given Iowa’s differing treatment of unions and corporations. Read More…