By Michael Wein
In my January 19 post about the online Court of Special Appeals documents for the prosecution of the officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death, I indicated that, as an inherently “cert-worthy” case, it would not be surprising if one of the parties sought certiorari and it ended up in the Court of Appeals. On Wednesday, that happened, as the Attorney General’s Office sought, in multiple filings (as seen on the Court of Appeal’s “Highlighted Cases” page), expedited review and a ruling that would apply in the prosecutions of the other five officers as to whether the Supreme Court’s opinion in Kastigar v. United States and Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 9-123 allow or prevent the admission of fellow officer William Porter’s previous testimony from his mistrial given that he will be tried again. Also at issue is the authority of the trial judge to refuse to stay three of the officers’ cases after making a pretrial evidentiary ruling relying on the State’s representation that Officer Porter’s testimony was not necessary.
In Jones v. State, No. 16, Sept. Term 2015, 2015 WL 8109905 (Md. Dec. 7, 2015), the Court of Appeals of Maryland significantly limited defendants’ ability to challenge their convictions and sentences through a writ of error coram nobis many years after the fact. Up until now, there have been many instances in which individuals in Maryland have had prior convictions overturned years after the fact because of a constitutional or other significant error that was overlooked at the time of conviction. That run of post-conviction successes may well be largely over after Jones.
The Court of Appeals website has posted certiorari grants from its December 2015 conference. We have a whopping 10 grants. And yet it brings us to a less-than-whopping total of 80 for the year. There were 90 total grants by this time last year. It’s possible that the Court of Appeals will add some extra cases to its September Term 2015 docket at next month’s conference. If so, however, it would be the first time since January 2012, before Chief Judge Barbera took the reins from Chief Judge Bell and committed to deciding cases by the end of the term in which they were argued.
The list of this month’s certiorari grants, with questions presented, appears after the jump. Read More…
We have a breaking update in our coverage of the long-running Kulbicki case. Ten weeks ago, the Supreme Court summarily reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals of Maryland in Kulbicki v. State, 440 Md. 33 (2014), which had found ineffective assistance of counsel on grounds that the Court of Appeals raised sua sponte. Read More…
It’s been quite a busy week on the judicial-appointments front: On Tuesday, Gov. Hogan elevated The Hon. Michele Denise Hotten to the Court of Appeals, and, today, nominations for the at-large Court of Special Appeals opening were announced. Although the deep pool of 27 applicants has been somewhat pared down, the governor is still faced with the difficult task of selecting only one of the 16 impressively credentialed finalists, half of which are sitting circuit-court judges. Of those, three on the Prince George’s County bench (Judge Alves, Judge Geter, and Judge Serrette) would, if it didn’t work out for the at-large bid, be eligible to vie for Judge Hotten’s vacancy.
[Editor’s Note: Portions of this post were previously quoted in “Lead Paint Evidence Clarified in Maryland; Causation, Injury Source Proof Distinguished,” Expert Evidence Report, Bloomberg BNA, Vol. 15, No. 21 (Nov. 9, 2015) (also available here).]
By finding that the circuit court in Roy v. Dackman, Md. Ct. App., Sept. Term 2015 (Oct. 16, 2015), abused its discretion by excluding lead-paint medical causation testimony, Maryland’s highest court seemed to curtail the wide discretion that trial judges typically enjoy when ruling on the admissibility of such testimony. In Roy, the plaintiff designated a board-certified pediatrician with “more than 20 years in practice,” Dr. Eric Sundel, to opine that the plaintiff had been exposed to lead more than a decade earlier at the defendants’ property and that the exposure had caused his alleged brain injuries. The trial court initially denied the defendants’ Rule 5-702 motion to exclude Dr. Sundel’s lead-source and medical causation opinions.
The new Adele record wasn’t the only exciting thing to be released Friday: The Court of Appeals also released a new round of certiorari grants! Check out the seven new cases — which include questions about tax refunds, administrative law, disability discrimination, and appellate review of suppression rulings — after the jump.
Although the Court of Appeals of Maryland’s Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure meets regularly, and the Court routinely considers proposed changes to the Maryland Rules, their activities impact the appellate rules with less frequency than a blue moon.* In September, however, the Court of Appeals adopted a number of modifications to the appellate rules that will apply to practitioners beginning January 1, 2016.
By Michael Wein,
Well, we’re one week away until the Maryland Court of Appeals’ self-imposed deadline of Monday, August 31, 2015, for deciding all cases in the September Term. Per the “Pending Cases” page on the Court of Appeals’ website, four, count that, only four, decisions are left, one from April (State v. Dykes), one from May (State v. Waine), and two from June (State v. Westray and Wicomico County Department of Social Services v. B.A.). The two from June may not reflect any particular disagreements between the judges, but are pending simply because they were the most recently argued, or, in the case of Westray, because it will be decided in tandem with the Dykes case from April, as both involve issues about the right to discharge counsel. The “Questions Presented,” as posed on the Court of Appeals’ web page, for all remaining cases are listed below.