by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
In this case alleging injuries and damages caused by lead paint exposure at a residential property the Court of Appeals clarified the issue of when epidemiological studies relied upon by an expert provide a sufficient factual basis for the expert’s testimony. Respondent sued Appellants alleging that lead exposure at a residence owned by Appellants caused him injury and that he sustained damages as a result. The jury returned a verdict for Respondent. On appeal, Appellants argued that Dr. Jacalyn Blackwell-White, who was accepted as an expert in the fields of pediatrics and childhood lead poisoning, did not have a sufficient factual basis for her opinions regarding causation. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) Dr. Blackwell-White’s causation opinion had a sufficient factual basis to establish a causal relationship between lead exposure and cognitive defects identified in Respondent and his IQ loss; and (2) there was sufficient evidence for the trial court to submit the case to the jury on the issue of whether Respondent’s lead exposure resulted in damages. View "Sugarman v. Liles" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

by
In this challenge to the 2018 primary election ballot, the Court of Appeals held that the State Board of Elections was required to apply the deadlines set forth in the state election law and follow the directives of the Election Law Article concerning the content of a primary election ballot. Oaks, a state legislator, filed a timely certificate of candidacy for the 2018 primary election. Oaks subsequently pled guilty to two felonies in federal court. Appellees filed this suit against the State Administrator of Elections to have Oaks’ name removed from the ballot. Arguing that Oaks' potential prison sentence would render him disqualified before the general election, Appellees filed a motion for an injunction to compel the State Board to remove Oaks’ name from the ballot. Oaks then gave up his voter registration, and the circuit court issued the requested injunction, an action that was contrary to the Election Law Article. The Court of Appeals vacated the circuit court’s preliminary injunction, holding (1) the State Board was required to apply the deadlines set forth in the state election law and follow the statutory directives in composing the 2018 primary election ballot; and (2) those directives were constitutional as applied to retain Oaks’ name on the primary election ballot. View "Lamone v. Lewin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

by
The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgments of the circuit court and Court of Special Appeals that there were no errors of procedure or substantive law on the part of Respondents - the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center (Hospital) and the Maryland Department of Health - and the administrative law judge (ALJ) in determining that Petitioner met the requirements for involuntary admission to the psychiatric unit of the Hospital. The Court held (1) the ALJ did not err in finding that Petitioner’s hearing on involuntary admission complied with the ten-day deadline for an involuntary admission hearing set forth in Md. Code Ann. Health-Gen. 10-632(b); and (2) there was substantial support in the record for the ALJ’s finding that Petitioner presented a danger to the life or safety of herself or of others at the time of the hearing. View "In re J.C.N." on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law

by
At issue was whether Petitioner’s request for the release of notes containing possible personnel information relating to her performance as an employee of the Montgomery County Attorney’s office were subject to disclosure under the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA). Montgomery County (Respondent) withheld the subject notes when responding to Petitioner’s MPIA request, claiming that the notes were privileged, non-public information. Petitioner then filed a complaint in the circuit court alleging that Respondent violated the MPIA and requesting an order requiring the disclosure of the documents. The circuit court granted Respondent’s motion to dismiss, concluding that an in camera review was not required because the notes were not considered personnel records pursuant to the Montgomery County personnel regulations. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals and remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings, holding (1) the trial court reviewing the denial of an MPIA request must be satisfied that the rationale offered by the agency supports the denial of the request; and (2) the trial court in this case did not sufficiently review the denial of Petitioner’s MPIA request. View "Lamson v. Montgomery County, Md." on Justia Law