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Maryland need not honor Virginia

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There has been much discussion about efforts taken in Virginia to restore the legal rights of convicted felons, including the right to vote as well as the right to possess firearms. Recently those rights in Maryland were explored by the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of James Hamilton v. William Pallozzi.

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‘Hey I didn’t do it - he did’ defense

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The courts are frequently called upon in criminal cases to determine whether a search by the police violated a defendant’s 4th Amendment constitutional protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. Many of these cases involve a search where no warrant was involved, but sometimes the warrant itself may be at issue. This is illustrated by an unreported opinion this month from Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals in a case called Hector Colon v. State.

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Court of Appeals Adopts New Bail Rules

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Last week Maryland’s Court of Appeals unanimously decided to adopt new rules to change the way bail is set when a person charged with a crime comes before a judicial officer. This follows extensive publicity and discussion as to whether poor people who cannot afford to post bail were disproportionately having to remain in jail pending trial.

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“Stop and frisk” has its limits

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The authority of police officers to “stop and frisk” alleged suspects was established by the Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago in a case called Terry v. Ohio. The Supreme Court placed significant limitations on the authority of the police to conduct warrantless searches of suspects, which the Courts are frequently called upon to review. One such case is a recent opinion authored by Senior Judge Charles Moylan, Jr. in a case called Brandon Ames v. State.

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All we are is dust in the wind

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When the Courts are called upon to review decisions of administrative agencies on technical issues such as air pollution levels, they have to balance deferring to the expertise of the agency with the judicial obligation to interpret statutes and regulations. This can make it hard at times to reach judicial consensus, as illustrated by the 4-3 decision in a case from Maryland’s Court of Appeals this month called Kor-ko, Ltd. v. Maryland Department of the Environment.

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Sometimes appealing the vote outcome is moot

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This past election cycle saw many attempts at legal challenges related to voting, including claims that persons who should be allowed to vote were being disenfranchised. While the Courts have to grapple with these issues, sometimes the timing of the legal challenge as a practical matter makes the merits of the claim moot because the Court does not have time to do anything about it. This is illustrated by an opinion this week from Maryland’s highest Court in a case called Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections (VOICE) v. Baltimore City Elections Board.

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Droning on and on about criminal activities

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The use of drones for all types of purposes has become widespread in the modern age. This has included, on occasion, their use in criminal activity. This is illustrated by an unreported opinion from Maryland’s intermediate appellate court this month in a case called Thaddeus Shortz v. State.

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When a police officer cannot offer testimony

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In recent years there have been a number of reported incidents of alleged police misconduct, a few of which have even led to criminal convictions of the former officer. Even without a criminal conviction, there have been instances where an officer’s conduct may make it impossible for the officer to testify in other cases. This can result in the officer losing his job, as illustrated by an unreported opinion this month from Maryland’s intermediate appellate court in a case called Carlton Brittingham, Jr. v. Cambridge Police Department.

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Power Plants and the power planted in courts

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It is not too often that Maryland’s highest Court is called upon to review the process for approval of facilities such as power plants. This month the Court of Appeals was called upon to do just that in an opinion called Accokeek, Mattawoman, Piscataway Creeks Community Council v. Public Service Commission.

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