Fourth Circuit Proves Infertile Ground for Heller Expansion

By Stuart Berman
Guest contributor

In its 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller[1], the Supreme Court revolutionized Second Amendment jurisprudence by holding unconstitutional the District of Columbia’s ban on possession of handguns in the home, as well as its requirement that all firearms in the home be stored in a manner that rendered them inoperable for immediate self‑defense. When the Court subsequently held in McDonald v. City of Chicago[2] that the Second Amendment applied to state and local governments, some observers predicted a string of decisions invalidating firearms prohibitions. Because the five states in the Fourth Circuit are home to a large population of firearms owners, and several of those states have loosened gun restrictions and even permitted “open carry” of weapons, firearms advocates had reason to hope the Fourth Circuit might to take the lead in reading Heller expansively. As a recent decision demonstrates, however, those hopes have not been fulfilled.

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Fourth Circuit asks only if arbitrators did their job – not if they did it well

By Brad McCullough

The Fourth Circuit recently reminded us that “[t]he scope of judicial review of an arbitration award ‘is among the narrowest known at law.’” UBS Fin. Servs., Inc. v. Padussis, slip op. at 6, No. 15-2148 (4th Cir. Nov. 22, 2016) (citation omitted). When reviewing arbitrators’ decisions, reviewing courts ask only “whether the arbitrators did the job they were told to do – not whether they did it well, or correctly, or reasonably, but simply whether they did it.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted). A disgruntled UBS Financial Services likely wanted to borrow a phrase from Johnny Paycheck and tell the arbitrators to “take this job and shove it,” but its attempt to obtain relief from the arbitration decision fell on deaf judicial ears.[1]

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December 2016 Maryland certiorari grants include life without parole, rule against perpetuities

The Court of Appeals of Maryland today posted nine certiorari grants. The full list, with questions presented, appears after the jump.

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Md. High Court: No Post-Conviction DNA Test Requests After Alford Pleas

By John Grimm

The Court of Appeals recently held that defendants who plead guilty or enter an Alford plea are not eligible to request post-conviction DNA testing pursuant to Criminal Procedure § 8-201. Section 8-201 allows anyone convicted of a crime of violence to request DNA testing of evidence in their case, and § 8-201(d)(1) requires the court to order the requested testing if two conditions are satisfied:

(i) a reasonable probability exists that the DNA testing has the scientific potential to produce exculpatory or mitigating evidence relevant to a claim of wrongful conviction or sentencing; and

(ii) the requested DNA test employs a method of testing generally accepted within the relevant scientific community.

Md. Code Ann., Crim. Pro. § 8-201(d)(1). If the results of the DNA test are favorable to the petitioner, the court must open or reopen a post-conviction proceeding, or order a new trial. Id. § 8-201(i)(2).

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Hidden Legal Horcruxes: “The Maryland Court of Appeals and the Amply Sized Certiorari Petition”

By Michael Wein

With the release of the movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” it’s worth noting that Maryland law embraces Harry Potter, at least tongue-in-cheek. Three appellate decisions, by three separate appellate judges, have cited the popular series of seven books by J.K. Rowling and nine movies — though the citations are only to the first and third books. See People’s Counsel for Balt. Cty. v. Loyola Coll. in Md., 406 Md. 54, 107 (2008) (J. Harrell) (discussing  how the “‘Sorting Hat’ is a magical artifact that is used to determine in which house (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin) first-year students at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft are to be assigned” in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”); Bishop v. State, 417 Md. 1, 26 (2010) (J. Battaglia) (in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” a “‘boggart’ is a shape-shifting creature … that takes the form of the viewer’s worst fears. Because it instantly changes shape when someone first sees it, no one knows what a boggart looks like when it is alone. One way to combat a boggart is with the charm riddikulus.”); Bethesda Title & Escrow, LLC v. Gochnour, 197 Md. App. 450, 452 (2011) (J. Zarnoch) (during the litigation, “parties moved in and out of the complaint faster than Harry Potter’s broomstick in a Quidditch match.”) Now it’s time to bring out more advanced concepts of lawyer wizardry exhibited in the later books.

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Maryland Court of Appeals adds one case to its docket, subtracts another

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

Keeping up regular updates to a blog isn’t easy, but the Maryland Court of Appeals is making things easier for us by issuing certiorari grants on a rolling basis. The Court’s monthly conference was yesterday. After the six grants earlier this month, there was only one cert-worthy case left. Read More…

COSA Dissent Watch: Battered-Spouse Syndrome and Murder-For-Hire

By Chris Mincher

The case: Porter v. State, Sept. Term 2013, No. 1916 (Oct. 25, 2016)

The questions: Does Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. (“CJP”) § 10-916 permit a defendant implicated in a murder-for-hire scheme to introduce evidence of battered-spouse syndrome? Did the evidence in the case establish that the defendant had a subjective belief of an apparent imminent or immediate danger of death or serious bodily harm?

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Maryland Certiorari Grants and Other Docket Developments

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

We’ve been posting (here and here) about apparent changes in the timing of certiorari grants by the Court of Appeals of Maryland. It’s becoming clear that the Court of Appeals will now be granting certiorari as soon as the judges decide a case is worthy of review. They will not be waiting for their monthly conferences, which are likely to focus on closer calls that warrant discussion. Yesterday, the court posted its second pre-conference batch of certiorari grants for November. It also recently accepted a certified question from the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

In other news affecting the Court of Appeals docket, The Daily Record’s Steve Lash reported yesterday (from behind the paywall) that Glenn Grossman is retiring as Bar Counsel on January 31, 2017. We don’t usually cover Attorney Grievance Commission cases here at the blog, but it’s important to remember that those cases represent a significant part of the court’s business.

The new certiorari grants and the certified question are listed (with questions presented) after the jump. Read More…

November 2016 Maryland Certiorari Grants

It looks like the new normal is that the Court of Appeals of Maryland will now issue two batches of certiorari grants each month: one during its argument session at the beginning of the month, and one following its mid-month conference. The Court just posted four certiorari grants. Lewis v. State presents some interesting questions under the Uniform Act to Secure Attendance of Witnesses from Without a State in Criminal Proceedings (Court of Specials opinion here). The full list, including questions presented, appears after the jump.

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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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