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Court Report

And now we are goading a mistrial

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Ordinarily, the constitutional protection of double jeopardy bars a retrial of a criminal defendant for the same offense where a jury had been impaneled and a mistrial ending the trial proceedings occurs. This protection comes from the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life and limb.”  What happens when the prosecution is said to have deliberately goaded the defense into moving for a mistrial was explored in an unreported opinion this month from Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals in a case called Michael Stewart v. State.

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Opening statement equals mistrial

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In criminal cases, the 5th Amendment protects a defendant from having to testify, and the criminal defendant has no obligation to present any evidence at trial.  However, where the defense lawyer gives an opening statement to the jury promising that it would hear the defendant’s version of facts, and then fails to produce any evidence, that leads to problems. This is illustrated by a case last month from Maryland’s intermediate appellate court called Antonio W. Johnson v. State.

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Limits on the social hosts liabilities

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As previously discussed in this space, Maryland’s highest Court in a recent opinion called Kiriakos v. Phillips recognized that adults who violate a criminal statute that prohibits knowingly allowing underage drinkers to get intoxicated on their property may be sued civilly for injuries caused by that consumption of alcohol. Maryland’s intermediate appellate Court last week explored the limits of the Court of Appeal’s recent decision, in a new case called Hansberger v. Smith.

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De facto parents rights in Maryland

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Given the advent of same sex marriage, courts in Maryland are addressing issues of divorce, child custody and visitation issues arising from dissolution of those relationships as well as traditional marriage. Earlier this month, Maryland’s highest Court recognized the changes that have occurred involving same sex relationships and the law, in a case  called Michelle Conover v. Brittany Conover.

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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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