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Court Report

The tie goes to the "One" parent

 

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Most judges will say that child custody decisions in divorce cases are among the thorniest problems with which they must deal. Maryland’s Court of Appeals in a 1986 opinion approved the concept of joint custody of the children after a divorce, designed to give each parent an equal say in important decisions in their child’s life. That decision held that the most important factor in whether to make an award of joint custody was the ability of the parents to communicate and make shared decisions. What happens when there is no ability for the parents to effectively communicate was explored by a recent case from Maryland’s highest Court called Santo v. Santo.

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Probation for the sex offender parent

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Those individuals convicted of sexual offenses understandably face not only punishment which may include prison, but limitations on their freedoms if they are granted probation after release from incarceration.  Whether the terms of probation can be applicable even to limit the defendant’s parental rights was explored by Maryland’s Court of Appeals in a recent case called Troy Robert Allen v. State of Maryland.

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Holding hosts responsible for drinking

The problem of consumption of alcohol by young people under the Maryland legal drinking age of 21 is well known. This week Maryland’s highest Court for the first time recognized, under certain circumstances, that adults who violate a criminal statute prohibiting knowingly allowing underage drinkers to get intoxicated on their property may also be sued civilly for injuries caused by that consumption of alcohol. The two combined cases heard by the Court of Appeals were called Kiriakos v. Phillips and Dankos v. Stapf.

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Criminal child neglect not easy to apply

 

Under Maryland law, criminal child neglect means “the intentional failure to provide necessary assistance and resources for the physical needs or mental health of a minor that creates a substantial risk of harm to the minor’s physical health or a substantial risk of mental injury to the minor.” Applying this law to particular sets of facts can be difficult, as illustrated by a 4-3 decision by Maryland’s Court of Appeals last week in a case called Beverly Annetta Hall v. State.

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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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