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The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the juvenile court declining to terminate the legal relationship between Mother, Father, and Child and ordering Child into the guardianship and custody of a relative, holding that the juvenile court abused its discretion by declining to terminate the parental rights of Father when it found that neither parent could never safely care for Child. In deciding this case, the Court of Appeals reaffirmed that, when considering the termination of parental rights, the pursuit of the best interest of the child remains the overall goal. As to the instant case, the Court of Appeals held (1) there was ample evidence to find that Father was unfit or that exceptional circumstances existed by clear and convincing evidence to terminate his parental rights; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in declining to terminate Father's parental rights. View "In re Adoption/Guardianship of C.E." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court denying Petitioner coram nobis relief, holding that Petitioner waived the grounds underlying both claims supporting his petition. Petitioner pleaded guilty to third degree sexual offense and was required to register as a sex offender. In his second petition for a writ of coram nobis Petitioner argued that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was involuntary. The circuit court denied relief. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed after reaching the merits of Petitioner's claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, albeit on a different ground, holding that Petitioner's claims were waived. View "Hyman v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals affirming the postconviction court's grant of Defendant's petition for postconviction relief and remanded with instructions to remand the case to the postconviction court for further fact finding, holding that the record lacked the factual determinations necessary to rule on the state's motion to correct the record. Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and other crimes. In his motion for postconviction relief, Defendant raised several claims of ineffectiveness of trial counsel. The postconviction court granted Defendant's petition, finding that trial counsel provided deficient assistance by not objecting to an improper jury instruction. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The State appealed and, prior to oral argument, filed a motion to correct the record pursuant to Maryland Rule 8-414. The State's motion, if granted, would resolve the merits of the State's appeal by eliminating the sole ground for Defendant's postconviction relief. The Supreme Court held that a remand to the postconviction court was required because, given the nature of the parties' dispute and the facts available, the Court was not in the position to rule upon the State's motion to correct the record. View "State v. Christian" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals affirming Defendant's convictions, holding that this Court had jurisdiction to reach the merits of this appeal and that the trial court erred in excluding a witness' prior convictions for committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering (VICAR offense) for impeachment purposes but that the exclusion of those convictions was harmless. Defendant was found guilty of retaliation against a witness and participation in a criminal gang. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that the trial court properly excluded a witness' prior VICAR offenses for impeachment purposes because those convictions involved violent crimes that were not relevant to credibility and were non-impeachable crimes. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) a witness' prior convictions for VICAR offenses are admissible for witness impeachment; and (2) although the trial court erred in excluding the witness' prior convictions for impeachment purposes, the court's error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "Rosales v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this class action lawsuit filed by individuals against whom Defendant, an unlicensed debt buyer, obtained judgments in the district court, the Court of Appeals vacated the decision of the Court of Special Appeals affirming the circuit court's rulings with respect to Defendant's liability under the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act, Md. Code Title 14, Subtitle 2 of the Commercial Law Article, but remanding the case for retrial on the issue of damages, holding that remand was necessary for a reassessment of damages. Because Defendant was unlicensed, Plaintiffs sought to have the judgments against them declared void and sought monetary damages. The circuit court dismissed the case, concluding that it was an impermissible collateral attack on enrolled judgments. The Court of Special Appeals remanded for trial, ruling that the enrolled judgments were void. On remand, the jury returned verdicts for Plaintiffs and the class. The Court of Special Appeals remanded for a new trial on damages after again holding that the district court judgments were void. The Court of Appeals held (1) the Court of Special Appeals erred in concluding that the judgments were void because the collateral attack on the enrolled judgments was not allowed; and (2) the licensing statute permits a private cause of action for acting as a collection agency without a license. View "LVNV Funding LLC v. Finch" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming the trial court's judgment granting summary judgment in favor of Respondent, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, Petitioner's action against Respondent was barred by the one satisfaction rule because Petitioner received full compensation for her injuries. Petitioner, who was injured in an automobile accident, filed suit and obtained a settlement from the negligent driver and the owner of the other vehicle, as well as from her uninsured/underinsured motorists carrier. In this case, Petitioner sought to recover for her injuries from Respondent, a hospital. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that because Petitioner obtained a settlement in her previous litigation from her insurer for the same injuries that she now sought from Respondent, Petitioner's claim against Respondent was barred by the one satisfaction rule. View "Gallagher v. Mercy Medical Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that a proposed municipal annexation that encompassed an area consisting entirely of tax-exempt properties did not require consent from the owners of such properties pursuant to Md. Code Ann. Loc. Gov't (LG) 4-403(b)(2) and that an proposed annexation plan did not attempt to usurp law enforcement jurisdiction over certain lands contained within the proposed annexation area that were owned and managed by Maryland—National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC). The circuit court invalidated two resolutions of the Town of Forest Heights that, collectively, annexed into the Town 737 acres of land. All of the annexed lands were tax-exempt, and the owners of the lands were not required to provide their consents to the annexation. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the twenty-five percent property owner consent requirement of LG 4-403(b)(2) does not encompass tax-exempt property owners; and (2) the language contained within the annexation plan was appropriately conditioned so as to avoid any usurpation of law enforcement jurisdiction over properties owned and managed by MNCPPC. View "Town of Forest Heights v. Maryland National Capital Park & Planning Commission" on Justia Law

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In this criminal case, the Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals affirming Defendant's conviction, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion by asking compound "strong feelings" questions during voir dire and refusing to ask properly-phrased "strong feelings" questions.. The Court of Criminal Appeals reaffirmed its holding in Pearson v. State, 86 A.3d 1232, 1235 (2014), that, on request, a trial court is required to ask a properly-phrased "strong feelings" question during voir dire and that it is improper for a trial court to ask the "strong feelings" question in compound form. The Court then held that, in this case, the circuit court abused its discretion by asking compound "strong feelings" during voir dire and that the circuit court did not cure its abuse of discretion by asking the jury properly-phrased "strong feelings" questions after the conclusion of voir dire and opening statements. View "Collins v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision to admit text messages that Defendant sent to his wife's cell phone, holding that the confidential martial communications privilege does not attach to communications relating to child abuse. Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree child abuse, and neglect of a minor child. On appeal, the Court of Appeals remanded the case for a new trial, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting text messages between Defendant and his wife because the State did not rebut the presumption of confidentiality. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) courts should narrowly construe privileges, including the marital communications privilege; (2) text messages between spouses are presumed to be confidential unless the party advocating for their admission can establish that they were not; (3) because individuals are under a legal duty to report child abuse, communications made to a spouse concerning child abuse cannot be reasonably presumed confidential; and (4) the text messages in this case were properly admitted against Defendant. View "State v. Sewell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals reversing Defendant's conviction for accessory after the fact to murder and remanding the case for a new trial, holding that application of whether particular evidence may be admitted based on the legal principle of "opening the door" is reviewed de novo, that Defendant opened the door to otherwise inadmissible evidence, but that the State used the evidence at issue in a manner that exceeded the scope of the doctrine. In reversing, the Court of Special Appeals held that the trial court erred in permitting the State to question Defendant regarding his participation in a previous, unrelated incident during which a knife had been brandished because the door had not been opened for questioning by the State. The Court of Appeals affirmed on other grounds, holding that, in applying a de novo standard of review, defense counsel opened the door for the State to introduce rebuttal evidence but that the State's questioning during cross-examination exceeded the scope of the open door doctrine. View "State v. Robertson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law