British playwright Noel Coward memorably observed that coming across a footnote is like going downstairs to answer the doorbell while making love. Although this quip has left my mind’s eye with an image it can’t un-see every time I consider dropping a footnote, it has not banished footnotes from my legal writing. But the vivid quote and a recent Maryland federal-court opinion have prompted me to consider more carefully when and when not to use footnotes.
“Law of the case” is a doctrine that tends to be loosely thrown around by attorneys who vaguely feel that some fact or principle should be treated as established for the remainder of their litigation, but don’t quite know why. For appellate practitioners — especially those who get involved in particularly contentious and protracted lawsuits — it’s good to get an occasional refresher on how the principle actually works. The Court of Special Appeals recently provided just such a primer in Baltimore County, Maryland v. Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 4, Sept. Term 2013, No. 1904/Sept. Term 2014, No. 99 (Dec. 17, 2014), a case that should cause all lawyers readying an appeal to think a little deeper about what issues they need to raise and what relief they want to seek.
An email invite (text cut-and-pasted below) just appeared in our inboxes for the following Baltimore City Bar Association event:
MILTON TALKIN LECTURE
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m.
Clarence Mitchell Courthouse
(Bar Library’s Brown Room)
Bring Your Lunch.
The Honorable Joseph F. Murphy, Jr.
Court of Appeals of Maryland, Retired
Member, Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, LLC
Judge Murphy, Maryland’s foremost expert in appellate advocacy, retired from the Court of Appeals in August 2011 and joined the law firm of Silverman, Thompson Slutkin & White, LLC, where he focuses his court practice to litigation support. He also heads the firm’s Alternative Dispute Resolution practice. Judge Murphy authored the Maryland Evidence Handbook, teaches Evidence at the University of Baltimore Law School, and teaches Trial Practice at the University of Maryland Law School.
BABC Members – FREE
For information or to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 410-539-5936.