In bittersweet news for the Maryland bench and bar, Bessie Decker, the first-ever woman to serve as Clerk of the Court of Appeals, will retire on October 1. The upcoming vacancy is now posted on the Maryland Courts website, with an application deadline of October 5.
Two years ago, we awaited the appointment of a successor to the empty seat on the U.S. Supreme Court that resulted from the death of Justice Scalia. An early casualty of a tie votes occurred in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, No. 14-915. Many public employers and employees had their eyes on the case, which involved the California Teachers Association, because its outcome had the potential to alter the relationship between public employees and their union representatives that has existed since the 1970s. Read More…
Stare decisis, the practice of following in judicial decisionmaking a rule of decision established in prior cases, is a cornerstone of the United States legal system. More fundamentally, it is the practice of respecting precedent. The Marks Rule, the subject of this post, aides stare decisis by purporting to establish a method for ascertaining the binding rule of decision in fragmented cases, that is, cases in which no majority of a quorum of an appellate court joins in a single opinion of the court or in otherwise expressing the rule of decision. Read More…
This afternoon, the White House issued a press release announcing President Trump’s intent to nominate Allison Jones Rushing to replace Judge Allyson K. Duncan of North Carolina. Earlier this year, Judge Duncan announced that she would take senior status upon the confirmation of her successor. Read More…
Three vacancies on Maryland’s appellate courts, arising from the forthcoming retirements of Judge Sally D. Adkins of the Court of Appeals (1st Appellate Judicial Circuit, covering the Eastern Shore), Chief Judge Patrick L. Woodward of the Court of Special Appeals (Montgomery County), and Judge Deborah Sweet Eyler of the Court of Special Appeals (At Large), collectively drew 27 applicants, whose names were published this afternoon.
Even though South Carolina and Maryland each have three seats on the Fourth Circuit, you’ll be more likely to draw at least one South Carolina judge than a Maryland-based judge for your three-judge panel.
The U.S. Senate yesterday confirmed Julius “Jay” Richardson and U.S. District Judge Marvin Quattlebaum as U.S. Circuit Judges for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which hears federal appeals from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Both new judges are based in South Carolina. Judge Quattlebaum will need to wait a few weeks to take his seat, because Judge William Traxler, whom he is replacing, does not take senior status until August 31. Judge Richardson replaces Judge Dennis Shedd, who took senior status in January. Information on the new judges’ backgrounds is in this prior post.
As friend-of-the-blog Kevin Elliker pointed out in a Twitter exchange, the Fourth Circuit appears to have its most-ever number of judges in the pool: 15 active judges, plus three senior judges still serving on panels. Although Congress expanded the Fourth Circuit from 12 judges to 15 judges in 1990, a Virginia seat (held by Chief Judge Roger Gregory) was not filled until 2000. Judge James Wynn‘s North Carolina seat was vacant from 1994 to 2010 (not a misprint). Judge Pamela Harris‘ seat here in Maryland was vacant from 2000, when Judge Murnaghan died, until 2009, when Judge Andre Davis was appointed. And, compared to other circuits, unusually few senior judges have kept hearing cases.
Now we’ll have three, all from South Carolina: Judges Shedd and Traxler, plus Judge Clyde Hamilton, who took senior status in 1999. It appears that Judge Hamilton is still on panels in cases submitted on brief, but that he has not been on oral argument panels since 2015.
By Michael Wein
It’s time for the Annual* “Blockbuster” Court of Appeals decision watch. Three years ago, with about one week to go before the Maryland Court of Appeals’ self-imposed deadline of August 31st for deciding all cases in the term, the Court had only four cases left to decide. Two years ago, with two weeks before the Court’s deadline, there were 11 decisions left undecided. With a little more than two weeks to go before this year’s deadline, nine (9) decisions remain undecided, per the “Pending Cases” page on the Court of Appeals’ web site, with four (4) of those cases related to the topic of juvenile life sentences (that will likely involve some form of consolidated opinion, or opinions that will cross-reference each other). Of these 9 cases, one is civil, five are criminal, and three involve an Attorney Grievance matter. A listing of these cases’ Questions Presented from the Court of Appeals’ website, can be found at the bottom of this post.
On Friday, the Court of Appeals of Maryland granted certiorari in three criminal cases and one civil case. All three criminal grants were on petitions by the State.