Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The law enforcement officers that stopped Defendant in this case had reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop when they witnessed what appeared to be criminal activity immediately before the stop. Alternatively, even assuming the stop was unlawful, the evidence recovered from Defendant would be admissible because the attenuation doctrine would apply. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals to the extent that it held that the officers had reasonable suspicion to stop Defendant. Alternatively, the court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate appellate court and adopted the reasoning of the concurring opinion with respect to the application of the attenuation doctrine. Accordingly, Defendant’s motion to suppress should have been denied. View "Sizer v. State" on Justia Law

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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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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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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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Petitioner made several public records requests under the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA) to the police department of Anne Arundel County, ultimately seeking “any and all” records related to one of the County’s police officers. Dissatisfied with the handling of his requests, Petitioner filed at least two lawsuits under the PIA against the County that resulted in numerous rulings in the circuit court. As a result of the circuit court’s rulings, Petitioner obtained several records that the County had not found in its initial searches in response to Petitioner’s request or had initially withheld as privileged. The circuit court concluded that the circuit court had committed “knowing and willful” violations of the PIA but declined to grant Petitioner the injunctive relief or damages he sought. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that there was not clear and convincing evidence of any knowing and willful violations of the PIA, and therefore, Petitioner was not entitled to the relief he sought. View "Glass v. Anne Arundel County" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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Jayson Master sought access to a lease between Calvert Tract, LLC and Whole Foods. Calvert Tract had earlier voluntarily provided a redacted version of the lease to Prince George’s County while its zoning application was pending. The County denied Master’s request seeking access to the lease, explaining that the lease was not subject to disclosure under the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA). Master then filed a complaint seeking access to the lease. The trial court granted summary judgment to Calvert Tract and the County, concluding that the lease was confidential commercial information and therefore was exempt under the MPIA. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals, holding that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on the grounds that the lease was protected from disclosure under the MPIA’s confidential commercial information exemption. View "Amster v. Baker" on Justia Law

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Darrell Ellis filed criminal charges against Andrew Baker for an incident involving a shoot-out. Baker then filed criminal charges against Ellis for an alleged assault that occurred two days later. At Baker’s trial for allegedy assaulting Ellis, it was discovered that Ellis’ defense counsel for the charges related to the second incident was related to the assistant state’s attorney who was prosecuting Baker for the charges stemming from the first incident. Upon learning this information, the trial court declared a mistrial over Baker’s objection. Baker filed a motion to dismiss his indictments on grounds of double jeopardy. The trial court denied the motion. The Court of Special Appeals reversed and ordered the indictments be dismissed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that retrial of Baker was barred by double jeopardy principles because the trial court’s declaration of a mistrial over Baker’s objection was not supported by manifest necessity. View "State v. Baker" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Petitioner was convicted of armed robbery, robbery, and related offenses. The trial court sentenced Petitioner to twenty years’ imprisonment for armed robbery and merged the remaining offenses. Petitioner appealed, arguing that the trial judge abused his discretion in conducting the voir dire of the prospective jurors. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the judgment of conviction. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the voir dire process in this case reasonably assured that Petitioner was tried before an impartial jury. The Court, however, used the opportunity of this case to encourage trial judges to adopt certain best practices to help achieve the constitutionally requirement of an impartial jury. View "Collins v. State" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder, among other crimes. Defendant was sentenced to four consecutive sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, one for each conviction of first-degree murder. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the murder convictions and sentences, holding that CR 2-304 does not give a defendant the right to have a jury determine whether the defendant should be sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) under CR 2-304(a), where a defendant is convicted of first-degree murder and the State has given notice of an intent to seek life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, the trial court, not the jury, determines whether to sentence the defendant to life imprisonment or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole; and (2) both the United States Constitution and the Maryland Declaration of Rights permit a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole to be imposed in the same manner as every other sentence except the death penalty, which has been abolished in Maryland. View "Bellard v. State" on Justia Law