Five months ago, I wrote about Porter v. State, 455 Md. 220 (2017), where a deeply divided Court of Appeals, in a 4-3 decision, held that a battered spouse may rely on the imperfect self-defense to stave off a first-degree murder charge, even in the absence of a contemporaneous threat to the defendant/battered spouse. In the view of the majority, the threat of inevitable harm can constitute a threat of imminent harm. But to the dissent, only a contemporaneous threat from the decedent can constitute a threat of imminent harm for purposes of either self-defense or imperfect self-defense.
Two months after the Porter opinion was rendered, the Court of Special Appeals decided Wallace-Bey v. State, 234 Md. App. 501 (2017), which was the first post-Porter reported appellate decision in Maryland to address battered spouse syndrome and imperfect self-defense. The Court, however, was not called on to assess the imminence of the threat to the defendant. Instead, the Court was faced with what it described as “the absurd position that the prosecution persuaded the trial court to adopt,” id. at 544, i.e., that any word emanating from the decedent’s mouth in the moments leading to when the defendant shot him to death – as well as any other words he uttered during the parties’ tortured and often violent relationship – constituted inadmissible hearsay. According to an exhaustive and biting opinion from Judge Kevin Arthur – an opinion which also serves as a comprehensive primer on the law of hearsay – the circuit court’s rulings were clearly wrong and just as clearly not harmless error. Judge Arthur’s opinion serves as a cautionary tale to trial lawyers – be careful espousing overly aggressive, and ultimately erroneous, legal positions, because what you might end up “winning” is reversible error. Or be careful what ruling you ask for, because you might just get it and might just have to live with the repercussions.
Editor’s note: The testimony of the Wallace-Bey trial, as detailed in the opinion by the Court of Special Appeals, contains graphic content that is now quoted or summarized below.
Last week, I posted about United States v. Oliver, in which the Fourth Circuit held that the Court has the inherent authority to dismiss an untimely criminal appeal sua sponte. As that post was about to go live, the Fourth Circuit added to its limited jurisprudence in this area in United States v. Hyman, holding that the Government did not forfeit its objection to an untimely criminal appeal by waiting to file a motion to dismiss until after the defendant filed his opening brief. Read More…
Fourth Circuit holds that it can dismiss an untimely criminal appeal sua sponte, but should do so only in very limited circumstances.
In United States v. Oliver, the Fourth Circuit recently held that the Court has the inherent authority to dismiss an untimely criminal appeal sua sponte. As a general rule, the Court said, it will not use that authority; instead, it will rely on the government to raise an objection based on untimeliness. In rare cases, however, an untimely appeal can implicate judicial interests to such an extent that not intervening would harm the court as an institution. Only in such circumstances will the Fourth Circuit exercise its authority to dismiss a criminal appeal where the government has forfeited or waived its objection. Read More…
On Monday, in Artis v. District of Columbia, the Supreme Court of the United States resolved a division of authority on the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1367(d). Under § 1367(d), when a federal court exercises supplemental jurisdiction over a state-law claim, the limitations period on that claim “shall be tolled while the claim is pending and for a period of 30 days after it is dismissed unless State law provides for a longer tolling period.”
Justice Ginsburg, writing for the five-justice majority, noted a division of authority on the application of the statute:
The high courts of Maryland and Minnesota, along with the Sixth Circuit, have held that §1367(d)’s tolling rule pauses the clock on the statute of limitations until 30 days after the state-law claim is dismissed. See In re Vertrue Inc. Marketing & Sales Practices Litigation, 719 F. 3d 474, 481 (CA6 2013); Goodman v. Best Buy, Inc., 777 N. W. 2d 755, 759–760 (Minn. 2010); Turner v. Kight, 406 Md. 167, 180–182, 957 A. 2d 984, 992–993 (2008). In addition to the D. C. Court of Appeals, the high courts of California and the Northern Mariana Islands have held that §1367(d) provides only a 30-day grace period for the refiling of otherwise time-barred claims. See Los Angeles v. County of Kern, 59 Cal. 4th 618, 622, 328 P. 3d 56, 58 (2014); Juan v. Commonwealth, 2001 MP 18, 6 N. Mar. I. 322, 327 (2001).
Maryland found itself on the winning side of that division of authority, Read More…
Kamil Ismail Guest contributor
In a pair of decisions from 2007 and 2009, the Supreme Court of the United States established what has become known as the Twombly-Iqbal standard for a federal complaint to state a claim. With Twombly-Iqbal now entrenched in federal court, practitioners may be wondering whether that standard’s “plausibility” requirement also applies to complaints in state court. A better question, though, may be whether such a requirement was ever lacking in state court. Read More…
From the Maryland Appellate Blog inbox, and highly recommended:
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5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Social Hour Reception – Foyer to the Courtroom
Cash Bar (Beer & Wine) & Hors D’oeuvres
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. – Court of Appeals Courtroom
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$20.00 for MSBA Litigation Section or Family and Juvenile Law Section Members
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The Maryland Court of Appeals has posted its first batch of April 2017 certiorari grants, and next term is already looking interesting. The four grants include Baltimore charter schools’ appeal of an order staying their challenge to the city school board’s proposed funding formula. The Court of Appeals is also set to address the necessity of expert testimony to introduce a cell phone’s GPS location record. The cases are likely to be argued in September. The full list appears after the jump.
The Maryland Court of Appeals posted the “questions presented” in seven March certiorari grants yesterday, though only six of them are now live appeals. One petition, Deon Leroy Williams v. State, was granted on March 3, only to be dismissed on reconsideration on March 24. The first on the list, Burak, may provide some key insights on how the Court of Appeals will apply last year’s de facto parenthood decision in Conover v. Conover. The six live certiorari grants, with questions presented, appear after the jump. Read More…
Remember when that partisan street fight broke out after Pamela Harris was nominated to the Fourth Circuit by President Obama? David Fontana wrote in The New Republic that “liberals should rally behind” then-nominee Harris because she – “more than any other Obama judicial nominee” (whew!) – would “be a sympathetic vote to liberal causes,” would “give rise to the next generation of liberal legal elites,” and would “be an eloquent and inspiring champion of liberal jurisprudence.” Carrie Severino blisteringly responded in National Review that the Senate “should be deeply skeptical of her ability to put the law ahead of her political views,” and National Review did multiple pieces attacking her candidacy. The questioning at her confirmation hearing tracked this line of attack. Confirmed with 50 votes (no filibuster after Harry Reid triggered the nuclear option), Judge Harris fortified Obama’s transformation of the Fourth Circuit.
A few years have passed – and were the commentators right? Is she a liberal lion and a conservative’s worst nightmare?