Justia Maryland Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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The Court of Appeals dismissed this appeal of the court of special appeals' denial of an application for leave to appeal in a postconviction proceeding, holding that this Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. (CJ) 12-202.Petitioner was found guilty of first-degree murder and other crimes. Nearly ten years after Petitioner was sentenced, he filed a petition for postconviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of both trial and appellate counsel. The postconviction court denied the petition. Petitioner filed an application for leave to appeal, which the court of special appeals denied without explanation. Petitioner then petitioned the Court of Appeals for writ of certiorari. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that CJ 12-202 is not precluded by article IV, section 14A of the Maryland Constitution. View "Mahai v. State" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming the circuit court's dismissal of Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim and reversing the grant of Defendant's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) on Plaintiff's discrimination claim, holding that the court of special appeals did not err.Plaintiff sued the Town of Riverdale Park and members of the Riverdale Park Police Department for claims including intentional discrimination on the basis of national origin. The circuit court granted the Town's motion for judgment on the malicious prosecution claim and sent the discrimination claim to the jury. The jury found in favor of Plaintiff and awarded damages. The circuit court granted the Town's motion for JNOV, citing Plaintiff's lack of evidence. The court of special appeals affirmed the dismissal of the malicious prosecution claim but reversed the grant of the motion for JNOV. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Plaintiff presented sufficient evidence of discrimination to withstand a motion for JNOV. View "Town of Riverdale Park v. Askhar" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming the circuit court's declaratory judgment concluding that Homeowners' amended restrictive covenant validly prohibited the construction of a commercial driving range on a lot within a residential subdivision and that a restrictive covenant permitted the realignment of the lot's property boundaries, holding that the circuit court did not err.Petitioner applied for zoning variances and exceptions from the Talbot County Board of Appeals to modify the boundaries of the sixth of five lots in the Swan Point Subdivision and to construct a driving range. Respondents, property owners in Swan Point, opposed the variance and amended the restrictive covenant specifically to prohibit a driving range on any lot within Swan Point. The Board granted the zoning variance for Petitioner. After the circuit court affirmed, Respondents brought this declaratory judgment action. The circuit court declared that Respondents' restrictive covenant validly prohibited the construction of a driving range on the lot at issue and that the original Swan Point restrictive covenant permitted the realignment of the lot's property boundaries. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the circuit court reached the correct result. View "RDC Melanie Drive v. Eppard" on Justia Law

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In this case concerning the interpretation of an ambiguous voting provision in a corporation's charter the Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Respondents, shareholders of Petitioner's Series B shares, holding that the circuit court did not err.Petitioner raised issued a series of preferred stock known as Series B and a nearly identical series of preferred stock known as Series C. Petitioner later sought to buy back the shares of both series. Owners of two-thirds of the shares of both series approved the measure, but owners of less than two-thirds of Series B did so. Petitioner argued that the approval of two-thirds of shares of both series, counted together, provided the necessary approval required by the charter provision relating to Series B shares. Respondents filed this action seeking to restore and rights and preferences of Series B shares. The circuit court found that the charter language was ambiguous and that the failure to obtain the approval of owners of two-thirds of the Series B shares doomed Petitioner's proposal to buy back those shares. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the voting provision was ambiguous; and (2) the extrinsic evidence relating to the voting provision resolved the ambiguity in favor of separate voting by Series B shareholders. View "Impac Mortgage Holdings, Inc. v. Timm" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming Defendant's conviction of attempted first-degree murder and related charges, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in giving the criminal pattern jury instruction on flight.Defendant was prosecuted for shooting Eric Tate, III and immediately fleeing the scene. At trial, Defendant disputed both that he was the shooter and that he was the person who fled the scene. The trial judge provided the jury with the pattern instruction on flight, and the jury convicted Defendant. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in giving the flight instruction. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) a trial judge generally should not give a flight instruction where the sole contested issue at trial is the defendant's identity as the fleeing offender; and (2) because the evidence adduced at trial generated the flight instruction and because Defendant did not make the necessary unequivocal statement to the court narrowing the case solely to his identity as the fleeing assailant, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in giving the flight instruction. View "Wright v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Court of Appeals held that where there are two legal parents, both legal parents must consent to and foster a third party's formation and establishment of a parent-like relationship with a child under the first factor of the test set forth in In re Custody of H.S.H.-K., 533 N.W.2d 419 (Wis. 1995), adopted by this Court in Conover v. Conover, 146 A.3d 433 (Md. 2016).E.N. was the biological mother and D.D. was the biological father of two minor children. When D.D. entered into a relationship with T.R. the children moved in with the couple. T.R. later filed a complaint seeking sole legal and physical custody of the children. The circuit court granted T.R.'s complaint for custody, concluding that T.R. was a de facto parent of the children. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) to establish de facto parenthood where there are two legal parents, a prospective de facto parent must demonstrate that both legal parents consented to and fostered a parent-like relationship with a child, or that a non-consenting legal parent is an unfit parent or exceptional circumstances exist; and (2) the circuit court erred in concluding that T.R. was a de facto parent and in granting her joint legal custody and sole physical custody. View "E.N. v. T.R." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming Petitioner's convictions and the judgment of the circuit court denying Petitioner's motion to transfer jurisdiction to the juvenile court pursuant to Md. Code Crim. Proc. 4-202, holding that the circuit court did not properly consider Petitioner's amenability to treatment in a juvenile institution, program, or facility.Petitioner was charged with several crimes that he committed when he was sixteen that were beyond the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. After the circuit court denied Petitioner's motion to transfer jurisdiction to the juvenile court Petitioner entered a conditional guilty plea. The court of special appeals. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the matter for a new hearing on Petitioner's motion to transfer, holding that it was evident from the circuit court's remarks that it did not properly consider amenability. View "Davis v. State" on Justia Law

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In this case concerning Talbot County's authority to impose civil penalties for Petitioners' violations of the Talbot County Code arising from their unlawful actions associated with clearing trees and constructing a driveway on their property without a permit the Court of Appeals held that the Talbot County Board of Appeals (Board of Appeals) lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider or review the purported assessment of civil penalties.The penalties at issue were imposed by six assessment notices issued after the Talbot County Chief Code Compliance Officer (CCCO) was notified about the violations and issued abatement orders. Petitioners filed an administrative appeal of the assessments. The Board of Appeals concluded that the CCCO had the authority to issue the civil assessments but that the daily accrual of fines was stayed by Petitioners' administrative appeal. The circuit court reversed that portion of the Board's determination and entered an order authorizing Talbot County to enforce the civil assessments as originally assessed. The Court of Appeals vacated the circuit court's judgment, holding that the adjudication of civil penalties by a charter county in circumstances such as those within this case is within the original jurisdiction of the Maryland courts and not within the jurisdiction of a local board of appeals established by a charter county. View "Angel Enterprises Ltd. Partnership v. Talbot County" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming Defendant's conviction of murder and attempted murder, holding that Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his rights under Miranda and that the circuit court correctly determined that a jury instruction on duress was unwarranted.Before trial, Defendant moved to suppress his confession to a law enforcement officer. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that Miranda had been complied with and that Defendant's confession was voluntary. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his rights under Miranda, his confession was voluntary, and his circumstances did not render his waiver of rights involuntary; and (2) the circuit court did not err in declining to give a jury instruction on duress because the instruction was unwarranted. View "Madrid v. State" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals reversing Defendant's conviction for armed robbery, robbery and other crimes, holding that accepting a jury as ultimately empaneled does not waive any prior objection to the trial court's refusal to propound voir dire questions.Prior to the commencement of the jury trial in this case, defense counsel submitted several voir dire questions to be posed to the venire. When the trial court declined to pose a proposed question defense counsel objected, but the objection was overruled. At the conclusion of jury selection, the court asked whether either party objected to the jury as empaneled. Defense counsel responded, "no." After Defendant was convicted, he appealed, arguing that the trial court committed reversible error in failing to ask the proposed question. The court of special appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) objections relating to a trial court's determination not to ask a proffered voir dire question are not waived by later acceptance, without qualification, of the jury as empaneled; and (2) Defendant did not waive his objection to the trial court's decision not to ask the proffered voir dire question at issue by accepting the jury as empaneled without repeating his prior objection. View "State v. Ablonczy" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law