Justia Maryland Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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The Court of Appeals held that this Court's holding in Kazadi v. State, 223 A.3d 554 (2020), applies to cases in which a defendant had not yet noted an appeal when the opinion was issued in Kazadi but had preserved a Kazadi issue at trial and that the Kazadi issue in this case was preserved for appellate review.In Kazadi, the Court of Appeals held that, on request and during voir dire, a trial court must ask whether any prospective jurors are unwilling or unable to comply with the jury instructions on the fundamental principles of presumption of innocence, the defendant's right not to testify, and the State's burden of proof. The Court of Appeals in this case held that, in light of case law from the United States Supreme Court and this Court and considerations of fairness, the holding in Kazadi applies to cases in which there had not yet been a final disposition, regardless of whether a notice of appeal had been filed at the time the opinion in Kazadi was issued and in which the issue had been preserved for appellate review. View "Kumar 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 reversing the circuit court's judgment in favor of Plaintiff in this personal injury case, holding that the court of special appeals did not err or abuse its discretion.Plaintiff, who was injured while shopping at a supermarket owned and operated by Defendant, brought this suit alleging negligence and negligent hiring, training, and supervision. A jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff. The intermediate appellate court reversed, concluding that the circuit court erred in denying Defendant's motion for judgment made at the close of evidence and in giving a jury instruction on spoliation. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the court of appeals (1) applied the correct standard of review when reviewing the circuit court's denial of Defendant's motion for judgment; (2) did not err in reversing the circuit court's denial of Defendant's motion for judgment; and (3) did not err in holding that the circuit court's spoliation instruction was prejudicial. View "Webb v. Giant of Maryland, LLC" 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 conviction of illegal possession of a firearm, holding that there was no error.Specifically, the Court of Appeals held (1) the scope of the State's mandatory disclosure obligations pursuant to Md. Rule 4-263(c)(2) does not include jail call recordings held by a state correctional facility that has not reported to the State in a particular case; (2) under the circumstances of this case, the State exercised due diligence in disclosing the jail call recordings; and (3) even if the State violated its discovery obligations through its late disclosure, the error was harmless. View "Alarcon-Ozoria v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's conviction of first-degree murder, holding that this Court's holding in Kazadi v. State, 223 A.3d 554 (Md. 2020), applies to cases in which a defendant had not yet noted an appeal when the opinion was issued in Kazadi but had preserved a Kazadi issue at trial.In Kazadi, the Court of Appeals held that, on request and during voir dire, a trial court must asking whether prospective jurors are unwilling or unable to comply with the jury instructions on the fundamental principles of presumption of innocence, the State's burden of proof, and the defendant's right not to testify. The Court later stated that that the holding would apply to any cases pending on direct appeal when the opinion was filed and the relevant question had been preserved for review. In the instant case, the court of special appeals affirmed Defendant's first-degree murder conviction, concluding that the circuit court did not err in declining to ask Defendant's proposed voir dire questions. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the circumstances were satisfied for Kazadi to apply to this case. View "Kumar v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Court of Appeals held that an administrative law judge (ALJ) with the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings erred in declining Petitioner's request to be represented by counsel at an administrative hearing regarding the approval to give Petitioner forced medication, holding that the ALJ erred.Petitioner, a patient at a psychiatric institution, refused to take prescribed psychotropic medication. After a panel approved forced medication, Petitioner requested a hearing. On the day of the hearing, Petitioner asked for counsel. The ALJ treated the request for counsel as a request for a postponement, concluding that there was not good cause to postpone the hearing, and convened the hearing with Petitioner unrepresented. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) under the plain language of HG 10-708 an individual possesses a right to counsel upon request; (2) an on-the-record waiver colloquy of the kind required in a criminal case is unnecessary, but there must be verification that the individual has knowingly and voluntarily waived the right to counsel and elected to proceed without representation; and (3) the ALJ erred in declining Petitioner's request to be presented by counsel at the administrative hearing. View "Mercer v. Thomas B. Finan Center" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court denying Respondents' motion to dismiss Petitioner's petition for judicial review of the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commission summarily denying Petitioner's second request for modification of an earlier order, holding that the circuit court erred.The Commission issued an order approving Petitioner's request for four additional weeks of physical therapy for her left shoulder that was injured due to a workplace accident. More than three years later, Petitioner filed a request for modification of the earlier order denying her request for authorization of surgery. The Commission denied the request without a hearing. Petitioner then filed a second request for modification, which the Commission denied without a hearing. The circuit court denied Petitioner's petition for judicial review. The court of special appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission's summary denial of Petitioner's request for modification was not subject to judicial review. View "Sanders v. Board of Education of Harford County" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner's convictions of perjury and misconduct in office, holding that this Court declines to abrogate the two-witness rule for "oath-against-oath" perjury cases and that there was sufficient evidence to support the convictions.Petitioner, a veteran officer in the Baltimore Police Department, was charged with perjury and misconduct in office based on allegedly false testimony he gave at a criminal trial. The circuit court found Defendant guilty, and the court of special appeals affirmed. Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari, arguing that the lower courts' bases for affirmance were erroneous, and the State filed a cross-petition for certiorari asking the Court to abrogate the two-witness rule prospectively. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the State met its burden of production under the two-witness rule in this case; and (2) the evidence was sufficient to sustain Petitioner's convictions for perjury and misconduct in office. View "O'Sullivan v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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In this case involving the method for determining an apartment tenant's utility bill, the Court of Appeals held that the approval requirements stated in Md. Code Pub. Util. (PU) 7-304 are applicable to all energy allocation systems in apartment houses, regardless of the construction date of the building.A federal district court issued a certified question of law in the context of a putative class action lawsuit brought by Plaintiff, on behalf of residential apartment tenants, against a residential utility billing services company working on behalf of Maryland landlords. The federal district court asked the Court of Appeals to determine whether, for apartment houses built prior to 1978, methods of energy allocation determining the billable amount of electricity or gas by means other that by the actual measurement of consumption of the individual unit are subject to the approval of the Public Service Commission, as set forth in PU 7-304. The Court of Appeals held that allocation of energy costs solely computed on the basis of square footage computations and pro rata assessments, as well as added rental components, are exempt from the approval requirements set forth PU 7-304. View "Moore v. RealPage Utility Management" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court determined that the Legislature, through its enactment of a comprehensive statutory framework governing residential landlord and tenant relations, achieved an appropriate balance between a landlord's right to recover a landlord's property interest at the conclusion of a tenancy and a tenant's right to safe and habitable housing conditions during the pregnancy.After Plaintiff provided Defendants, who resided in Plaintiff's building as a month-to-month tenants, with a sixty-day written notice to quit and Defendants refused to vacate the premises, Plaintiff filed tenant holding over actions under N.Y. Real Prop. 8-402. In both cases, the circuit ordered that possession of the property be returned to Plaintiff. Defendants filed a petition for writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to hold that the tenants holding over statute is unavailable to an unlicensed landlord seeking a writ of possession of the landlord's property after the expiration of a tenancy. The Supreme Court declined to adopt such a holding and affirmed. View "Velicky v. CopyCat Building LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of appeals issued one opinion to address two petitions for writ of certiorari filed by Clifford Cain, Jr. and Tasha Gambrell challenging the outcome of their putative class actions against Midland Funding, LLC, holding that the court of special appeals erred in part in the case of Cain and did not err in the case of Gambrell.Cain and Gambrell (together, Petitioners) filed two putative class action cases against Midland, alleging improper debt collection activities in connection with money judgments that Midland obtained against Plaintiffs during a period when Midland was not licensed as a collection agency under Maryland law. In Cain's case, the circuit court entered an order granting summary judgment to each party in part and a separate declaratory judgment declaring the rights of the parties. In Gambrell's case, the circuit court granted Midland's motion to dismiss. The court of appeals concluded that Petitioners were not entitled to relief. The Court of Appeals reversed in part, holding (1) Maryland recognizes cross-jurisdictional class action tolling; (2) in Gambrell's case, the lower courts did not err; and (3) as to Cain's individual claims, the court of special appeals erred in part. View "Cain v. Midland Funding, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law