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The Court of Appeals held that the Public Service Commission (Commission) acted within its authority when it approved the acquisition of Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI) and its utility subsidiaries by Exelon Corporation (Exelon). The General Assembly has provided for judicial review of decisions of the Commission assessing and either approving or rejecting an acquisition of a company that supplies electricity in the State, including a merger with another utility. At issue here was the Commission’s approval of the acquisition of PHI and its utility subsidiaries by Exelon. The circuit court and Court of Special Appeals concluded that the Commission acted within its authority when it approved the transaction. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the Commission properly considered the factors listed in Md. Code Pub. Util. Cos. 6-105(g)(2) and exercised its discretion as to what weight to accord factors other than those specifically listed in the statute; and (2) the Commission acted neither arbitrarily nor capriciously in evaluating harm to renewable and distributed generation markets. View "Office of People's Counsel v. Maryland Public Service Commission" on Justia Law

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At issue was three crimes that were committed when each of three Petitioners was a juvenile and whether each Petitioner was effectively serving a sentence of life without parole because the laws of Maryland do not provide him with a “meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” See Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010). None of the sentences imposed in these cases was explicitly “life without parole.” In all three cases each Petitioner filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Court of Appeals concluded that one Petitioner was entitled to be resentenced to a legal sentence, holding (1) with respect to the two Petitioners serving life sentences, their sentences are legal under the laws governing parole of inmates serving life sentences in Maryland; but (2) with respect to the Petitioner serving a 100-year sentence, the sentence is effectively a sentence of life without parole in violation of the Eighth Amendment. View "Carter v. State" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals granting Respondent’s motion to dismiss and dismissing the State’s appeal from the circuit court’s grant of Respondent’s motion to correct illegal sentence for want of a final judgment, holding that the circuit court’s grant of Respondent’s motion correct an illegal sentence and vacation of Respondent’s sentence was an interlocutory order that will not become a final judgment triggering the State’s right to appeal until the circuit court imposes a new sentence. The circuit court vacated the sentence imposed in connection with Respondent’s convictions for three counts of first-degree murder and other crimes after granting Respondent’s motion to correct illegal sentence under Maryland Rule 4-345(a) based on recent United States Supreme Court precedent involving life sentences for juvenile offenders. The State appealed. The Court of Appeals granted Respondent’s motion to dismiss, holding that the mere grant of a motion to correct an illegal sentence, without imposition of a new sentence, is not an appealable final judgment from which the State has the right to appeal. View "State v. Clements" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals finding that the trial court did not deny Petitioner due process by permitting the State to question him about his failure to disclose an alibi defense after he invoked Miranda. Petitioner was convicted of first degree murder and other crimes. On appeal, Petitioner argued that the trial court denied him due process by allowing the prosecutor to question him about “what he did not tell the police about his alibi defense, even though the omissions were a result of [Petitioner’s] post-arrest, post-Miranda invocation of silence and were not inconsistencies with his trial testimony.” The State countered that even statements taken in violation of Miranda can be used to impeach a witness’s prior inconsistent statement. The Court of Appeals held that an invocation of Miranda does not preclude the State from impeaching a witness concerning prior inconsistent statements, even after a suspect invokes his right to remain silent. View "Reynolds v. State" on Justia Law

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At issue before the Court of Appeals was the correct interpretation of Md. Code Ann. Pub. Util. (PU) 4-210, known as the STRIDE statute, which allows Maryland gas companies more timely cost recovery if they submit plans that increase the pace of natural gas infrastructure improvements. The Maryland Public Service Commission, the circuit court of Montgomery County, and the court of special appeals each concluded that the STRIDE statute provides accelerated cost recovery only for gas infrastructure projects located in the State. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the STRIDE statute’s legislative history supports this Court’s interpretation that PU 4-210 is unambiguous and requires that “gas infrastructure improvements” be located “in the State” in order promptly to recover investment costs separate from base rate proceedings. View "Washington Gas Light Co. v. Maryland Public Service Commission" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether allowing a child to remain indefinitely in the custody of a third party, without termination of the parents’ parental rights, constitutes a proper exercise of judicial discretion consistent with the pertinent provisions of the Family Law Article. The Court of Appeals held that the Family Law Article allows for such discretionary exercise so long as the decision is grounded in statutory requirements and is supported by the record, and pursuit of the child’s best interest remains the overarching goal involving termination of parental rights. The Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the juvenile court in this case, holding (1) the juvenile court did not err in declining to terminate Father’s parental rights because a rational finding existed that a continued relationship with Father served the child’s best interest even where complete custodial reunification was not apparent; and (2) regarding Mother, the juvenile court’s determination that a continued parental relationship served the child’s best interest lack consideration of the relevant statutory considerations found in Md. Code Ann. Fam. Law 5-323. View "In re Adoption/Guardianship of C.E." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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At issue in this criminal case was (1) whether a witness’s statement that another witness “would not tell the truth about certain things[,]” was admissible as a personal opinion about that witness’s character for truthfulness; and (2) whether the trial court erred by prohibiting a witness’s testimony about out-of-court threats the complainant made during an argument with Defendant. A jury found Defendant guilty of sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree assault. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the conviction. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the trial court erred by prohibiting a witness’s testimony regarding the complainant’s truthfulness because character evidence was relevant to the proceeding, and the witness had an adequate basis to offer the opinion; and (2) the trial court erred in excluding the witness’s testimony that the complainant, during a fight, was saying things that she could do to get Defendant in trouble because it was offered as nonhearsay impeachment evidence offered for the fact that the statement was made. View "Devincentz v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue was whether a duty of care extended from a medical research institute to a child who was allegedly injured by exposure to lead when the research institute conducted a research study seeking to investigate the effectiveness of lead-based paint abatement measures with a participant that lived with the child and in a property where the child lived. The circuit court concluded that the medical research institute did not owe a legal duty to the child because she was not a participant of the study. The Court of Special Appeals disagreed, holding that the institute owed the child a duty of care under the common law. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the research institute owed the child a duty of care under the common law. The Court’s holding was based on the balance of factors set forth in Kiriakos v. Phillips, 139 A.3d 1006 (Md. 2016) for determining the existence of a duty under the common law. View "Kennedy Krieger Institute, Inc. v. Partlow" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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At issue in this consolidated appeal was whether the Maryland Collection Agency Licensing Act (MCALA), as revised by a 2007 departmental bill, was constrained to the original scope of collection agencies seeking consumer claims or whether the revised statutory language required principal actors of Maryland’s mortgage market to obtain a collection agency license. In 2007, the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation requested a department bill to revise the definition of collection agencies required to obtain the MCALA license. The enacted departmental bill changed MCALA’s definition of “collection agencies” to include a person who engages in the business of “collecting a consumer claim the person owns if the claim was in default when the person acquired it[.]” The circuit courts below dismissed the foreclosure actions at issue in this appeal, concluding that foreign statutory trusts acting as a repository for defaulted mortgage debts were required to obtain a MCALA license before its substitute trustees filed the foreclosure actions. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the foreign statutory trusts did not fall under the definition of “collection agencies” that are licensed and regulated by MCALA, and therefore, the foreign statutory trusts were not required to obtain a license under MCALA before the substitute trustees instituted foreclosure proceedings on their behalf. View "Blackstone v. Sharma" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether Honorable Mary C. Reese’s actions in two cases constituted sanctionable conduct under court rules and the circumstances presented. Judge Reese presided over two hearings at which Petitioners sought a protective order and a peace order. Judge Reese’s conduct during these hearings formed the basis of the complaints for judicial misconduct. The Commission of Judicial Disabilities determined that Judge Reese committed sanctionable conduct while presiding over the peace order hearing. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the Commission’s conclusion and dismissed the matter with prejudice, holding that Judge Reese’s exercise of judicial discretion did not constitute sanctionable conduct or violate Maryland Rule 18-101.1 or 18-102.5(a). View "In re Honorable Mary C. Reese" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics