Justia Maryland Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgments of the Court of Special Appeals and circuit court dismissing D.L.'s petition for judicial review challenging her involuntary admission to a facility operated by Sheppard Pratt Health Systems, Inc. as moot based on her release from Sheppard Pratt, holding that D.L. faced collateral consequences as a result of her involuntary admission, and therefore, her appeal was not moot. An ALJ involuntarily admitted D.L. to Sheppard Pratt. After she was released, D.L. petitioned for judicial review. The circuit court granted Sheppard Pratt's motion to dismiss on grounds of mootness because D.L. had already been released from the facility. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that D.L. was subject to collateral consequences stemming from her involuntary admission, and therefore, the circuit court erred in dismissing the case as moot. View "D.L. v. Sheppard Pratt Health System Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Chancery reversed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court denying Defendant's motion to suppress cocaine on the grounds that officers' warrantless search of Defendant's person was illegal, holding that the same facts and circumstances that justify a search of an automobile do not necessarily justify an arrest and search incident thereto. On appeal, Defendant challenged the denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that the officers lacked probable cause to believe that Defendant possessed ten grams or more of marijuana. The Court of Appeals held (1) a person enjoys a heightened expectation of privacy in his or her person as compared to the diminished expectation of privacy he or she has in an automobile; and (2) the arrest and search of Defendant was unreasonable because the record did not suggest that possession of a joint and the odor of burnt marijuana gave the police probable cause to believe Defendant was in possession of a criminal amount of that substance. View "Pacheco v. State" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Court of Special Appeals that Defendant's new sentence imposed after a remand was illegal as "more severe" than his original sentence, holding that two sentences of equal maximum length but with different parole eligibility dates are not equivalent to one another. Defendant was convicted of several crimes and received an aggregate sentence of eighteen years in prison. The Court of Special Appeals vacated the sentence, concluding that the kidnapping and assault convictions should have merged for sentencing purposes. On remand, the circuit court resentenced Defendant to eighteen years in prison for the kidnapping offense alone. Under Defendant's original sentence, Defendant would have been eligible for parole after seven and one-half years, but under the new sentence, he would not become eligible for parole until he had served nine years in prison. The Court of Appeals held that the later sentence was more severe than the earlier sentence due to the later parole eligibility date and that, therefore, Defendant must be resentenced. View "State v. Thomas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the determination of the trial court that the parties in this case intended to form a general partnership, holding that the evidence could not sustain the simultaneous intent to form both an LLC and a partnership and that Respondent failed to provide competent material evidence demonstrating intent to form a partnership. Respondent brought this action claiming breach of contract and requesting a declaratory judgment asking for a determination of "the buyout price of his partnership interest." The trial court concluded that there was no enforceable written agreement but that that a partnership existed between the parties. The court then awarded Respondent more than $1 million. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that where the parties were also actively engaged in the process of negotiating to become members of an LLC, there was insufficient evidence of the parties' intent to form a partnership. View "MAS Associates, LLC v. Korotki" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgments of the circuit courts in this consolidated appeal concerning judicial review of the most recent permits issued to Carroll County and Frederick County under the Clean Water Act and a parallel Maryland regulatory scheme, holding that the Maryland Department of the Environment did not exceed its authority when it issued the permits and did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in including the challenged terms in the merits. Specifically, the Court of Appeals held (1) the Department may lawfully include an impervious surface restoration requirement in a municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) discharge permit without reference to the maximum extent practicable standard; (2) the Department may lawfully include an impervious surface restoration requirement in an MS4 permit; (3) the Department had authority to treat Frederick County and Carroll County as phase I jurisdictions for purposes of their MS4 permits; (4) it was not arbitrary or capricious for the Department to refrain from including "water quality trading" as a compliance method for MS4 permittees; and (5) an ambiguous provision in the Carroll County MS4 permit did not transfer the responsibilities of other agencies to the County. View "Department of Environment v. County Commissioners of Carroll County" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals affirming the ruling of the circuit court denying Defendant's motion to suppress a gun as evidence and convicting Defendant of one count of possessing a regulated firearm after having been convicted of a crime of violence, holding that the suppression court erred in denying Defendant's motion to suppress. Three police officers were on patrol looking to discover guns, drugs, or other contraband when they discovered Defendant sitting in the driver's seat of a vehicle that was illegally parked outside of his home. The officers approached the vehicle, frisked Defendant, and arrested Defendant after confirming that he possessed a handgun. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the State failed to establish that the frisk of Defendant was reasonable under the circumstances and that the attenuation doctrine did not serve to render the evidence admissible. View "Thornton v. State" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals reversing the decision of the Comptroller of the Treasury assessing estate tax and penalties against a Maryland estate that included the value of a particular type of marital trust created in Michigan, holding that the value of the marital trust was subject to Maryland estate tax and that the tax court properly waived the late-filing penalty. The trust at issue consisted of qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) that was reported on the decedent's federal estate tax return but was omitted from the estate's Maryland estate tax return. The Court of Special Appeals concluded that the Comptroller lacked the authority to tax the trust assets as part of the Maryland estate and that, because no tax was authorized, no penalty could be charged against the estate. The Court of Appeals held (1) upon the death of the decedent's surviving spouse, the QTIP trust assets were deemed to be transferred upon her death, and the transfer of such property at death was subject to the Maryland estate tax; and (2) the tax court properly waived the late-filing penalty because the personal representative sufficiently demonstrated reasonable cause. View "Comptroller v. Taylor" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming Defendant's sentence, holding that the State's belated notice to Defendant of his subsequent offender status was a procedural deficiency subject to harmless error review and that Defendant was not prejudiced beyond a reasonable doubt due to the belated notice. Defendant was convicted of driving while impaired by alcohol, reckless driving, negligent driving, and failure to control speed to avoid a collision. Prior to trial, the State served Defendant with a notice of his subsequent offender status as required by Maryland Rule 4-245, but the notice was sent five days later than required by Maryland Rule 4-245. At sentencing, the circuit court enhanced Defendant's sentence as a subsequent offender. Defendant did not object to the punishment enhancement. The court of appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the failure to give timely notice was a procedural error and did not give rise to an illegal sentence; (2) Defendant was not prejudiced by the belated notice; and (3) Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim should be considered within a post-conviction proceeding. View "Bailey v. State" 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 the judgment of the circuit court determining that state law preempted a local zoning authority with respect to solar energy generating systems (SEGS) that require a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) issued by the Maryland Public Service Commission and that the Commission had exclusive jurisdiction to approve the type of SEGS proposed by Perennial Solar, LLC in this case. Perennial applied to the Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals (Board) for a special exception and variance to construct a SEGS. The Board granted the variance and special exception. Aggrieved landowners sought judicial review, and Washington County intervened. While the petition for judicial review was pending, Perennial moved for pre-appeal determination challenging the subject matter jurisdiction of the circuit court. The circuit court granted the motion, determining that Md. Code Ann. Pub. Util. (PU) 7-207 preempted the Washington County zoning ordinance. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that PU 7-207 preempts by implication local zoning authority approval for the siting and location of generating stations that require a CPCN. View "Washington County v. Perennial Solar, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the court of special appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court denying Defendant's petition for postconviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, holding that Defendant proved that his trial counsel's performance was deficient but failed to establish prejudice. Defendant was found guilty of eleven charges arising out of an armed robbery. After an unsuccessful appeal, Defendant petitioned for postconviction relief, arguing that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by not moving to strike a juror for cause and by not using a peremptory challenge against the juror. The circuit court denied the petition, and the court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's trial counsel's conduct fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, but the presumption of prejudice did not apply here; and (2) Defendant failed to prove prejudice under the circumstances of this case. View "Ramirez v. State" on Justia Law