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.
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.
Court of Appeals leaves unanswered how no-contest clauses reduced four decades of estates and trusts case law
By Michael Wein
Maryland estates and trusts law does not get its fair share of reported appellate decisions. The vast majority of estates and trusts cases are handled quickly and adroitly by the orphans’ court or, in some counties, the circuit court. Few cases are seriously litigated on appeal, and even fewer are decided by the Maryland appellate courts. A survey reveals that only 2 out of the 97 cert petitions granted by the Court of Appeals in the 2016 term fell under the category of “Estates and Trusts.” In 2015, there were none.
Bd. of Liquor License Comm’rs for Balt. City v. Kougl: “But I didn’t know there was prostitution at my adult entertainment club.”
In the film classic Casablanca, Captain Renault claimed he was “shocked – shocked – to find gambling going on” in Rick’s café. Similarly, in a case recently decided by the Court of Appeals of Maryland, Steven Kougl was shocked that prostitution was being solicited in his adult entertainment establishment, The Club Harem. But the court found it unnecessary to pass on the credibility of Kougl’s claims of innocence and lack of knowledge, holding that liquor board regulations made him strictly liable for the illicit activities at his club. Bd. of Liquor License Comm’rs for Balt. City v. Kougl, No. 43, Sept. Term, 2016 (Feb. 17, 2017).
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).
By Michael Wein
In a report released online on Wednesday, the Maryland Rules Committee recommended to the Maryland Court of Appeals that attorneys be no longer prohibited from advertising themselves as “specialists.” This was proposed as an amendment to Rule 19-307.4, Communication of Fields of Practice. (If you’ve never heard of Chapter 19, which now incorporates the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct (MLRPC), you’re in good company, as the reorganization only took effect on July 1.) A briefing on why this change has been suggested can be found in my previous extensive write-up two years ago on this Blog.
Though supreme in their own domains, even sovereigns may, by agreement, accept obligations that lawfully bind them. Depending on the case, they may also pursue, even by coercion, rights granted by other sovereigns. This reflects nothing more than the operation at ever-higher levels of organization (partnerships, corporations, municipalities, states, and nations) the fundamental principles governing legal relationships between individuals. See generally W. Hohfeld, Fundamental Legal Conceptions (1919). These principles recognize the ability of juridical entities through the power of contract to create rights, duties, and other legal relationships among themselves, regardless of the comparative strength of their sovereignties by other measures.[i]
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.
Traditionally, the preclusive effects of res judicata and collateral estoppel applied only if the parties in the second case were the same as, or in privity with, the parties in the first case. This was commonly referred to as the “strict mutuality of parties” requirement, but the Court of Appeals “long ago discarded” that requirement for both res judicata and collateral estoppel. Caldor, Inc. v. Bowden, 330 Md. 632, 657 (1993) (citations omitted). Thus, it is now “irrelevant that the party seeking to assert collateral estoppel was not a party to the prior proceeding. Only the party against whom collateral estoppel is asserted need be a party or in privity with a party in the prior adjudication.” Id. at 657.