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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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The prosecution appeals evidence suppression

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Ordinarily in criminal cases, the prosecution that loses a criminal case does not have the right to appeal, unless the trial Court prior to trial has granted a defense motion to suppress evidence.

What can happen when the State challenges a trial judge’s suppression of the key evidence in a criminal case is illustrated in an unreported opinion this month from Maryland’s intermediate appellate Court in a case called State of Maryland v. Jason Louis Friday.

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When the grandparents get custody

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The Courts go to great lengths to protect parental rights when making child custody decisions in divorce cases, with the presumption being that a parent should have custody of their child. Given the dynamics of modern family life, it is becoming more frequent that parties such as grandparents may ultimately be awarded custody. This is illustrated by an opinion this month from Maryland’s intermediate appellate court called Natasha Burak v. Mark Burak.

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'Hey I didn't do it - he did' defense

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In criminal cases, it is not unusual for the defendant to try to suggest that someone other than the defendant may have committed the crime. What is unusual is to try to call the other alleged potential perpetrator as a witness to try to suggest that person’s guilt. Such a scenario was explored by Maryland’s intermediate appellate Court in a recent case called Baldeo Taneja v. State.

The Court’s opinion indicates that in October 2013 Mr. Taneja’s ex-wife was shot down and killed in the street in Germantown. Witnesses heard gunshots, and then saw the victim fall in the street, and another woman running away. Police the next day arrested Taneja and his current wife Kaur in Tennessee, and found in their car a revolver that was proven to be the murder weapon. Taneja had purchased the gun 5 weeks before, and his DNA was found on the gun. Evidence was produced that Taneja and Kaur were in Maryland at the time of the shooting, and both were charged with murder and other charges.

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