Issues – Courts & Judicial Proceedings – 1) Did the trial court erroneously apply Md. Rule 7-113(f) when it reviewed the district court’s construction of a contract’s terms for clear error rather than de novo? 2) Did the plain terms of the parties’ promissory note (“Note”) entitle Petitioner to a judgment against the Respondent? 3) In interpreting the Note, did Maryland law require the trial court to choose the one among two possible readings of the Note that was consistent with the parties’ intent?
The Supreme Court recently decided Kisor v. Wilkie, a case that addresses when courts are required to defer to agencies’ interpretations of their own rules. The general rule that courts defer to an agency’s reasonable interpretation of its own regulations when they are ambiguous was articulated in the case Auer v. Robbins and is referred to as Auer deference. Auer deference has been subject to criticisms that it allows agencies to issue what amount to new regulations without going through the rulemaking process and that it is an abdication of the judicial role of interpreting the law.
When the Maryland Legislature enacted the Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) in 2016, it did so with an eye toward an overhaul of the criminal justice system. The overarching goal of the JRA was to reduce Maryland’s prison population and use the related monetary savings to provide treatment to offenders before, during, and after their incarceration. The JRA would accomplish this by reducing maximum penalties for drug distribution convictions, by repealing mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, and by limiting the duration of incarceration imposed for a technical violation of probation. While the concept focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment, achieving the goals may be easier said than done. A recent example appeared before the Court of Appeals, which concluded that the JRA did not expand the ability of an individual to seek appellate review of a revocation of probation to allow a direct appeal, but instead, the individual must seek leave to appeal a decision. See Conaway v. State, No. 69, Sept. Term, 2018 and Johnson v. State, No. 76, Sept. Term, 2018 (combined).
In May, Blog Editor Derek Stikeleather sat down with Judge Daniel A. Friedman of the Court of Special Appeals (At-Large), to ask about his background, his chambers and law clerks, and how he prepares for oral arguments and writes his opinions.
What has best prepared you for your work as a judge on the Court of Special Appeals?
Three sources of my background practice prepared me for judging. I was a “big-firm” private civil litigator at Miles & Stockbridge and at Saul Ewing. I did public/government litigation both at the Baltimore City Solicitor’s Office and for the Maryland Attorney General. These two types of work required different expertise, both of which are helpful now. On the academic side, I focused on teaching and writing about constitutional law at the University of Maryland School of Law. These three branches of my legal experience each developed different parts of my foundation as a judge, but none of the three was more important than the others.
Pirates and Piracy: The Supreme Court Will Examine Whether States are Immune from Copyright Infringement Claims in a Dispute Over Blackbeard’s Shipwreck
By John Grimm
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that will determine whether Congress can abrogate states’ sovereign immunity with respect to copyright infringement claims. Allen v. Cooper, No. 18-877. The case arises out of an underwater research expedition to document and salvage the wreck of Blackbeard’s ship off the coast of North Carolina. The salvage team alleges that, without permission, North Carolina published some of the team’s footage on the internet, violating its copyright in the footage.
Court of Appeals Confirms Taxpayer Standing to Challenge Unlawful Government Spending but Clouds the Concept of Standing Under Maryland Law
An October 2018 post on this Blog covered the Court of Appeals’ decision to review two cases on the burgeoning and ever complex subject of taxpayer standing. On April 1, 2019, the Court decided Floyd v. Baltimore, and George v. Baltimore Co., adding those decisions to its lengthy and growing commentary on taxpayer standing. The Court’s decisions are clear that taxpayers do have standing to challenge government economic waste resulting from violations of law. In so doing, however, the Court muddled the analytical construct it has been struggling to define for testing when taxpayer standing will be recognized in actions challenging unlawful government action.
It’s not really new—corporations cannot participate in court proceedings without an attorney. The same concept applies to the otherwise informal process before an administrative agency. So what should a corporation do when its counsel withdraws from an administrative proceeding? The Court of Special Appeals recently answered the question in an unreported decision—retain counsel or say something to preserve the issue for further review.
A Necessary and Proper Post on the 200th Anniversary of McCulloch v. Maryland and the Upcoming Maryland Bicentennial Symposium
On March 6, 1819, exactly 200 years ago today, Chief Justice John Marshall issued his landmark McCulloch v. Maryland opinion, on behalf of a unanimous Supreme Court. On its face, McCulloch confirmed the federal power to create a national bank free from state taxation. But more enduring than the national bank’s charter (which expired by 1836) is the holding in favor of Congress’s implied powers, under the “Necessary and Proper” clause of the Constitution’s Article I, Section 8. Today, law students and elite legal minds alike continue to study the case and its lasting impact on our government framework and constitutional jurisprudence. Read More…
Here are the writs of certiorari granted by the Court of Appeals today:
State of Maryland v. Philip Daniel Thomas – Case No. 73, September Term, 2018
Issue – Criminal Procedure – As a matter of first impression, is a sentence imposed on remand legal if the new sentence imposes the same or fewer years of imprisonment but results in a later parole eligibility date than the original sentence? Read More…