Governor Hogan will be picking from 14 candidates to fill the at-large seat on the Court of Special Appeals vacated by the recent retirement of Chief Judge Peter B. Krauser. The nominations were announced last week and were chosen from an impressive list of lawyers and judges who applied in April. Eight of the candidates were automatically advanced because they had been previously recommended for the Court by the Judicial Appellate Nominating Commission. Five of the nominees are sitting circuit court judges.
By Michael Wein
The Maryland judiciary website posted last Wednesday about the Syed case guidelines for the public and news media interested in attending oral arguments. As noted in the detailed order by new Chief Judge Patrick Woodward, oral arguments are being held in Courtroom 1 on the second floor of the Courts of Appeal Building in Annapolis (the larger of the two courtrooms regularly used by the Court of Special Appeals). Courthouse security is taking significant protections against recording devices, and limited seating is being provided to the public and media.
This post is not about the Syed case, specifically. But the circumstances of the Syed oral arguments expose a lack of proper public access to any of the intermediate appellate court’s oral arguments, in noted contrast with the Court of Appeals. Syed is quite obviously a highlighted, media-interest case, which poses an opportunity to discuss what procedures Maryland’s intermediate appellate court should consider, in at least the future, to accommodate public interest in specific, important oral arguments.
The case: Murphy v. Ellison, Sept. Term 2015, No. 0822 (Aug. 23, 2016) (unreported)
The questions: Can a plaintiff in a lead-paint case establish a property as a reasonably probable source of exposure without expert testimony or inspections of the property? Can the age of a house or its components establish that the property probably had lead paint? Can evidence of lead paint on the exterior of a home be evidence of lead paint on the interior?
The case: Norman v. State, Sept. Term 2015, No. 1408 (Aug. 11, 2016)
The questions: Was the odor of marijuana effectively the only justification for a police officer’s alleged belief that a passenger in a vehicle was armed and dangerous? If so, is that belief reasonable for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment?
The case: Crawley v. State, Sept. Term 2013, No. 0467 (Aug. 8, 2016)
The questions: If a plea agreement would be invalid without the inclusion of probation, is probation an implied term of the agreement? If a plea agreement is invalid because it provides for an illegal sentence, can a trial court, sua sponte, increase the sentence to make it legal? If a plea agreement is invalid for failure to include probation, is a defendant’s renegotiation of the plea limited to the addition of probation, or can he renegotiate the entire agreement?
If the iconic 1990s television comedy series “Seinfeld” was a show about nothing, then a recent decision of the Court of Special Appeals was – in the words of Judge Kevin Arthur – “a case about nothing.” Ireton v. Chambers, No. 1038, Sept. Term 2105, slip op. at 1 (July 28, 2016). But while the case might have been “about nothing,” the litigants disagreed about nearly everything, including what exactly the court was reviewing, what standard of review the court should employ, and how a statute granting qualified immunity to municipal officials should be interpreted.
The case: State v. Johnson, Sept. Term 2015, No. 0189 (June 29, 2016)
The questions: Does a circuit court have fundamental jurisdiction to acquit a defendant after the grant of a mistrial? Does such an acquittal bar further prosecution even if court relies on evidence that is technically not before it?
The case: Lapole v. State, Sept. Term 2014, No. 2169 (June 27, 2016)
The questions: Can a voir dire question about bias regarding testimony of police officers reference other professions as well? Is the failure to properly give that question subject to harmless-error review?