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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

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Defendant, who was charged with solicitation, conspiracy, and first degree premeditated murder after contracting with a third party to kill her abusive husband, presented sufficient evidence that she felt as though she was in imminent danger to be entitled to a jury instruction on imperfect self-defense. A jury found Defendant guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit first-degree murder, and use of a handgun in commission of a crime of violence. Defendant filed a motion for a new trial, arguing that the trial court gave an erroneous instruction on imperfect self-defense. The court of special appeals concluded that Defendant had not presented sufficient evidence to be entitled to an imperfect self-defense instruction, and therefore, any error in giving the instruction was harmless. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial on all counts, holding that the trial court’s misstatement of the law in its imperfect self-defense jury instruction was not harmless. View "Porter 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, which affirmed the trial court’s judgment on Robert Roman’s negligence count against Sage Title, LLC but reversed the trial court’s grant of judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) with respect to Roman’s conversion count. Roman sought to hold Sage Title liable under a theory of respondent superior for the action’s of Sage Title’s employee who, along with two other individuals, were purportedly part of a fraud scheme to which Roman fell victim. Roman also sought to hold Sage Title liable under a theory of direct negligence. The trial court granted Sage Title’s motion for a judgment with respect to the negligence count. The jury then returned a verdict in favor of Roman on the conversion count and awarded him $2.42 million in damages. The trial court granted Sage Title’s JNOV motion on the court of appeals. On appeal from the court of special appeals, the Court of Appeals held (1) the conversion claim was properly before the jury, and the jury was correct in entering its verdict on that count in favor of Roman; and (2) the trial court correctly granted Sage Title’s motion for judgment as to the negligence count. View "Sage Title Group, LLC v. Roman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the finding of the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) that Employer and Insurer (collectively, Respondents) were entitled to offset the ordinary disability benefits already paid to Petitioner against the temporary total disability benefits paid to him by Respondents. Petitioner suffered injuries primarily to his back and neck while working for Employer. Employer received two different sets of disability benefits from Employer and Insurer, each awarded by a different state agency. Specifically, Petitioner was granted temporary total disability benefits by the WCC and ordinary disability benefits by the State Retirement Agency. The WCC found that Respondents were entitled to a credit for the ordinary disability benefits already paid to Petitioner. On judicial review, the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the WCC. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that because both sets of benefits compensated Petitioner for the same injury, pursuant to Md. Code Ann. Lab. & Empl. 9-610, the statutory offset properly applied to prevent a double recovery for the same injury. View "Reger v. Washington County Board of Education" on Justia Law