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The suppression court did not err in denying Petitioner’s motion to suppress the images of his fifteen-year-old girlfriend that the police found while executing the warrant to search Petitioner’s cell phone because the warrant-issuing judge had a substantial basis for issuing the warrant to search Petitioner’s cell phone. Petitioner was convicted of possession of child pornography based in large part on photographs and a video of Petitioner’s girlfriend that the police found on his cell phone while executing a warrant to search it. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Petitioner’s motion to suppress the photographs and video, concluding that the affidavit in support of the warrant provided a substantial basis who issued the warrant to find probable cause to search the cell phone. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that there was a substantial basis for the judge who issued the warrant to find probable cause that Petitioner’s cell phone contained evidence of suspected criminal behavior. View "Moats v. State" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress of evidence obtained during a search of his cell phone seized by police incident to an arrest, holding that the affidavit in support of the warrant supplied a substantial basis for the judge who issued the warrant to find probable cause to issue it. The court also took this opportunity to explain that, even if the affidavit in support of the warrant did not provide a substantial basis for the warrant-issuing judge to find probable cause to search Defendant’s cell phone, Defendant was not entitled to suppression of the evidence by application of the “good faith” exception to the exclusionary rule outlined in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984). View "Stevenson v. State" on Justia Law

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There is no procedural bar prohibiting a third-party from seeking to intervene in a custody dispute between parents because Maryland Rule 2-214 allows any person to intervene in an action "when the person's claim or defense has a question of law or fact in common with the action." Because a third-party may not obtain custody of a child over the child's biological parents unless the third-party can demonstrate that the parents are either unfit or that exceptional circumstances exist that may be detrimental to the child, the third-party seeking to intervene in a custody action must make a prima facie showing that the parents are either unfit or that exceptional circumstances exist in their pleading. In this case, the Court of Appeals held that the circuit court did not err in allowing the grandparents to intervene in the custody action between petitioner and father because the grandparents alleged sufficient facts in their motion to make a prima facie showing that petitioner and father were unfit and that exceptional circumstances may have existed in this case; the hearing judge abused his discretion in finding that petitioner was an unfit parent; the circuit court erred in applying the Hoffman factor test to the facts in this case; and because the circuit court abused its discretion in granting custody of the child to the grandparents, the circuit court also erred in ordering petitioner to pay child support to the grandparents. View "Burak v. Burak" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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A criminal defendant who is not competent to stand trial may not be continued in pretrial detention unless the government takes steps to provide treatment to restore the defendant to competency or to have the defendant civilly committed. Maryland law allows a court to determine whether a defendant is competent; if a defendant is incompetent with the potential to be restored to competency, the court may commit the defendant for appropriate treatment, Maryland Code, Criminal Procedure Article 3-104. The state Department of Health (MDH) adopted a policy on admission to state psychiatric hospitals to manage the demand for the limited beds available. That policy has resulted in a waiting list for admission, which has included criminal defendants who have been found incompetent and committed for treatment. The Circuit Court for Baltimore City adopted a practice of requiring admission of a defendant to a hospital within one day of the issuance of the commitment order. When MDH failed to comply, defendants challenged the MDH policy. The Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal, noting that the statute does not set a deadline for admission, nor does it authorize a court to do so; a delay in admission does not violate the statute, although it may violate the commitment order. Depending on the circumstances, a delay may violate the state due process guarantee. View "Powell v. Maryland Department of Health" on Justia Law

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Hosford, severely disabled and wheelchair-bound, has muscle spasms and pain.Since 1989, Hosford has resided at Foghorn's Baltimore CIty Ruscombe Gardens Apartments, subsidized through a federal “Section 8” project-based program. Hosford signed a “Drug-Free Housing Policy” with his lease. In 2014, the complex had a bed bug infestation. An extermination company entered Hosford’s unit and saw a marijuana plant growing in his bathtub. They reported this to the management office. A responding police officer concluded the plant was marijuana, confiscated it, and issued a criminal citation. A police chemist concluded that the plant was marijuana. A nolle prosequi was entered on the possession charge. Foghorn gave Hosford a notice of lease termination. When he did not vacate, Foghorn initiated an eviction. The Court of Appeals held that Maryland Code, Real Property 8-402.1(b)(1), which provides that a court ruling on a landlord-tenant dispute must conclude that a breach of a lease is “substantial and warrants an eviction” before granting judgment for possession of the leased premises, is not preempted by federal regulations mandating that subsidized Section 8 project-based housing developments include lease provisions that engaging in any drug-related criminal activity on or near the leased premises is grounds for termination of the lease. View "Chateau Foghorn, LP v. Hosford" on Justia Law

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The will submitted to probate in this case satisfied the statutory requirements for valid execution, particularly the requirement of attestation, and therefore, the circuit court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the testator’s estate. The challenger of the will petitioned the Court of Appeals for a writ of certiorari, arguing that the will did not satisfy the requirement of Md. Code Ann. Est. & Trusts 4-102(3) that the will be “attested…by two or more credible witnesses.” Specifically, the challenger argued that attestation requires that the witnesses sign, either upon the same sheet as the signature of the testator or on some sheet physically connected with it, and that the witnesses signed a page of the will not physically connected with the page the testator signed. The Court of Appeals held (1) when the testator and the witnesses sign on separate pages of a multi-page will, attestation does not require that the pages be “physically connected” at the time of signing; and (2) the circuit court properly found that the presumption of due execution attached to the will. View "Castruccio v. Estate of Castruccio" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC (AMM) sued the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission, its members, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene after AMM applied for, but did not receive, pre-approval for a medical cannabis grower license. AMM sought a declaratory judgment and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, arguing that the Commission failed to follow applicable law with respect to the requirement to consider racial and ethnic diversity of potential medical cannabis grower licensees and requested that the Commission be required to reconnect the pre-approval process. Relevant to this appeal, the circuit court denied a motion to intervene filed by medical cannabis growers that had received pre-approvals for medical cannabis grower licenses, a coalition and trade association that advocate for the use of medical cannabis, and patients who would potentially receive medical cannabis as treatment for illnesses. The Supreme Court held (1) the growers were entitled to intervention as of right and permissive intervention; but (2) the circuit court did not err in denying intervention as of right or permissive intervention as to the patients and the trade association petitioners. View "Doe v. Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC" on Justia Law

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A postconviction petitioner’s (Petitioner) trial counsel was not constitutionally ineffective by consenting to the presence of an alternate juror during deliberations, and the performance of Petitioner’s appellate counsel did not prejudice Petitioner's appeal by failing to argue that the alternate juror’s presence was plain error. The postconviction court granted Petitioner a new trial, concluding in part that Petitioner’s trial attorney was ineffective for failing to object to the presence of the alternate juror and that Petitioner’s appellate court was ineffective in failing to argue that the alternate juror’s presence was plain error. The court of special appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Petitioner failed to show that trial counsel’s performance prejudiced him at trial or that his appellate counsel’s performance prejudiced his appeal. View "Newton v. State" on Justia Law

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At issue was the use of a lien on real property as part of a deferred financing arrangement for the construction of water and sewer infrastructure to serve a new home development. To carry out a deferred financing strategy, Developer used an instrument called a declaration, which provided for payments of an annual assessment by future homeowners to Respondent. The declaration purportedly granted a lien by future homeowners to Respondent to secure the payment of the annual assessment and gave priority to that lien at a date before the development was constructed or any homeowner had granted such a lien. Petitioner, the holder of a deed of trust that arose out of the financing of one of the homes in the development, brought this action to clarify the priority of its interest in that property in relation to the lien asserted by Respondent for delinquent assessments. The Supreme Court held (1) the declaration recorded by Respondent did not itself create a lien on the property because Petitioner must follow the procedures set forth in the Maryland Contract Lien Act to establish a lien under the declaration with respect to delinquent assessments; and (2) the priority of that lien is determined by the date of its recording in the land records. View "Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. v. Saddlebrook West Utility Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether an agreement entered into during the course of the parties’ marriage made manifest by three deeds by which title was transferred to Wife by Husband was sufficient to exclude those properties from consideration as marital property under Md. Code Ann. Fam. Law 8-201(e). The trial court concluded that the postnuptial agreement was not a “valid agreement” under the requirements of section 8-201(e). Before the court of special appeals, Wife argued that the circuit court judge had erred in classifying the property as marital property because there was a “valid agreement” under section 8-201(e) excluding the two pieces of real property from marital property. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment. The Court of Appeals remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) under section 8-201(e), a valid postnuptial agreement does not require language that reclassifies property as nonmarital in order to exclude that property from marital property in divorce; (2) there was a valid postnuptial agreement to exclude one property as the nonmarital property of Wife; and (3) with respect to the second property, the trial judge, on remand, must consider whether there was a valid agreement to exclude the property as nonmarital under section 8-201(e)(2). View "McGeehan v. McGeehan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law