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Court Report

Conditional release of some defendants

It is in the news every time John Hinckley, who shot then President Ronald Reagan, is considered for release from confinement. Maryland has its own procedures for determining whether those found not guilty or criminally responsible by reason of insanity can be released from psychiatric confinement. This is illustrated by a case last month from Maryland’s highest Court called Merchant v. State of Maryland.

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Supreme Court reviews prisoner case

It is not often that the U.S. Supreme Court reviews Maryland’s procedures on claims, but last week the Supreme Court did issue an opinion regarding procedures under which inmates in the Maryland prisons can make claims against prison guards for alleged injuries. The case was brought by inmate Shaidon Blake against two corrections officers, and the opinion is called Michael Ross v. Shaidon Blake.

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Electronic harassment and emails

In this age of email, abuses in using email to harass have led to Maryland and other States creating statutes that criminalize email harassment. A particularly egregious case reported recently from Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals illustrates the penalties an offender can pay for such harassment. The case is called Michael Anthony Johnson v. State of Maryland.

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Another reason not to drink and drive

Driving a vehicle after consuming alcohol is not only illegal and very dangerous, but puts the driver at risk of arrest and serious legal consequences. This may include a search of the driver’s vehicle following an arrest, as explained in a recent opinion from Maryland’s highest Court called Taylor v. State.

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Explaining the Freddie Gray case

The ongoing story of the prosecutions of police officers in Baltimore arising from the death in custody of Freddie Gray includes a ruling, which is being followed in the current trial of a second officer, compelling Officer Porter to testify against the remaining police officers. Last week the Court of Appeals’ opinion was issued explaining this ruling and the law in Maryland regarding a person’s right under the Fifth Amendment not to be compelled to testify in another case while charges against the witness from the same matter are pending.

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Dueling restaurants and zoning

Competition among restaurants can be fierce, and it is not unusual to see a restaurant owner use legal arguments to try to keep a competitor out of what the first owner believes is its territory. This is illustrated in one of my favorite names for a case this year came that came down recently from Maryland’s Court of Appeals, called A Guy Named Moe, LLC v. Chipotle Mexican Grill of Colorado, LLC.

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Another "Birther" bites the dust

There have been a number of lawsuits filed by persons referred to in the press and media as “birthers,” who allege that President Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore ineligible under the U.S. Constitution to be President. While the President’s second term is approaching its end, last week the Maryland Court of Special Appeals addressed such a suit, in a case called Montgomery Blair Sibley v. John Doe.

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Consider a case of reasonable force

There has been much publicity in recent years about shootings by police officers.  The law tries to balance the difficult job of an officer, often in the heat of the moment, with the laws that protect all persons including criminal suspects. How a jury and the courts resolve such cases is illustrated by a case last month from Maryland’s intermediate appellate Court called Johnnie Armstead Riley v. State.

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The flexibility of a charter school

In recognition of a national movement to create public charter schools, Maryland passed the Public Charter Schools Act of 2003. The Act provides that funding for these schools is to be “commensurate with the amount disbursed to other public schools in the local jurisdiction.” While the details of public school funding are within the purview of local school boards and the State board, sometimes the Courts are asked to resolve disputes as illustrated by a recent case from Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals in a case called Frederick Classical Charter v. Frederick County Board of Education.

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Marijuana is still considered illegal

In 2014 the Maryland General Assembly changed Maryland law as to the penalties that can be imposed for possession of marijuana, so that possession of less than 10 grams is now considered a civil offense punishable by a fine and not a criminal defense. Whether this change in the law affects searches and seizures in Maryland was explored in an opinion last month from Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals in a case called Joshua Bowling v. State.

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