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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming the denial of Petitioner’s motion to correct illegal sentence. Petitioner pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit theft and making a false statement to the police and was sentenced to ten years’ incarceration with six years suspended and four years’ probation. Petitioner argued in his motion to correct illegal sentence that the circuit court imposed an illegal sentence after it bound itself to a cap of four years on any executed incarceration. Specifically, Petitioner argued that a reasonable lay person in his position would not have understood that he could have received a total sentence in excess of four years - including a suspended sentence and probation in addition to incarceration. The court of special appeals affirmed the denial of Petitioner’s motion to correct illegal sentence. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Petitioner’s sentence was legal because the plain language of the cap was clear and unambiguous. View "Ray v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeals answered a question certified by the court of special appeals regarding whether a trial judge may pose a broad occupational bias voir dire question when the parties requested that the trial judge inquire as to whether the venire persons would give undue weight to the testimony of a police-witness, based on the police witness’ occupation as a police officer. The Court of Appeals answered the question as reformulated by holding that when a party requests that an occupational bias question be asked during voir dire, including the police-witness question, the trial judge is required to initially determine whether any witnesses testifying in the case - based on their occupation, status, or affiliation - may be favored or disfavored on the basis of that witness’s occupation, status, or affiliation, and then propound a voir dire question that is tailored to those specific occupations, statuses, or affiliations. View "Thomas v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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This lawsuit was the result of the amendments to an area master plan to prohibit surface mining in certain mineral-rich areas of the county. The amendments were made by County Council of Prince George’s County, sitting as district council. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether two mining companies and a mining trade organization (collectively, Respondents) could seek judicial review of the master plan and whether the master plan amendments were preempted by state law. The Court of Appeals held (1) Respondents can seek judicial review of the master plan under Md. Code Ann. Land Use 22-407; (2) the trial court erred in upholding the district council’s adoption of the master plan amendments as procedurally proper; but (3) the amendments are severable, and the remaining portions of the master plan still stand. View "County Council of Prince George's County v. Chaney Enterprises Ltd." on Justia Law

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Md. Code Ann. Crim. Proc. 4-102 provides that in a circuit court proceeding a defendant is entitled to a preliminary hearing when charged by information with felonies but not when the defendant is charged by information with misdemeanors. Defendant was charged by information with misdemeanor offenses. Defendant moved to dismiss the charges, arguing that his case was improperly before the circuit court because he had been charged with misdemeanors by means of a criminal information without a preliminary hearing resulting in a finding of probable cause. The circuit court granted the motion and dismissed the case with prejudice. The court of special appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the court of special appeals did not err in concluding that when the State charges misdemeanors by criminal information in the circuit court no preliminary hearing is required. View "Brown v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Contractually-shortened limitations periods, such as the one at issue in this case, are valid only if there is no statute to the contrary, the provision is not the result of fraud, duress or misrepresentation, and the provision is reasonable in light of all relevant circumstances. Here a residential furnace maintenance agreement offered by Carroll Home Services, LLC (CHS) reduced the period for a consumer to bring a tort or contract claim against CHS from the statutory three years to one year. Petitioners, who had entered into a maintenance agreement with CHS, asserted tort and contract claims against CHS for damage to their residence allegedly caused by the company. Petitioners filed their complaint more than one year after their claims accrued but before the expiration of three years. The circuit court dismissed the complaint on the basis of the shortened limitations provision in the agreement. The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the circuit court and remanded the case for assessment as to whether the criteria for enforcement of the provision were met and whether the provision was reasonable. View "Ceccone v. Carroll Home Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the suppression of certain evidence discovered upon detectives’ use of a cell site simulator - or an undercover cell tower - concluding that whether use of a cell site simulator is a search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment or whether a court order authorizing its use fell short of a search warrant, the detectives here acted in objectively reasonable good faith. The circuit court suppressed the evidence on the ground that the use of the cell site simulator to locate the phone was a search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment and that the court order authorizing them to use a “cellular tracking device” to locate the victim’s phone did not function as a search warrant. In reversing, the Court of Appeals held that, based on existing case law, it was objectively reasonable for detectives to believe that their use of a cell site simulator pursuant to the court order was permissible under the Fourth Amendment, and therefore, and evidence obtained as a result of the detectives’ use of the cell site simulator should not be suppressed because of use of that device. View "State v. Copes" on Justia Law

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In this construction contract dispute, White Flint express Realty Group Limited Partnership, LLLP (White Flint) was entitled to recover attorney’s fees in connection with an action to enforce the contract between White Flint and Bainbridge St. Elmo Bethesda Apartments, LLC (Bainbridge). The court of special appeals affirmed the fee award in favor of White Flint, ruling that the contract provided expressly for attorney’s fees to be recovered in a first-party indemnification action. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the contract contained express provisions that authorized first-party fee shifting, and therefore, White Flint was entitled to attorney’s fees. View "Bainbridge St. Elmo Bethesda Apartments, LLC v. White Flint Express Realty Group Limited Partnership, LLLP" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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Petitioner, a charter school located in Frederick, Maryland, and Respondent, the Frederick County Board of Education (Local Board), disputed whether the Local Board’s annual funding allocation to Petitioner in its first year of operation satisfied Md. Code Ann. Educ. 9-109. Specifically, Petitioner argued that the Local Board’s decision to withhold a proportional share of transportation funds was incorrect. The State Board of Education disagreed and upheld the Local Board’s decision to withhold transportation funding from Petitioner’s annual funding allocation. The circuit court and court of special appeals upheld the State Board’s decision. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that the State Board’s decision to deny transportation funds to Petitioner was arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion. View "Frederick Classical Charter School, Inc. v. Frederick County Board of Education" on Justia Law

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The court of special appeals did not abuse its discretion by denying the State’s motion for reconsideration requesting a remand for the coram nobis court to conduct an evidentiary hearing on the merits of Defendant’s claim. Defendant had filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis challenging the voluntariness of his guilty plea to distribute marijuana. The coram nobis court denied Defendant’s petition without holding a hearing. The court of special appeals determined that, based on the record of the plea hearing, Defendant’s guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary, and therefore, the coram nobis court erred by denying Defendant relief. The State then filed a motion for reconsideration arguing, for the first time, that the record of the plea hearing was inadequate for the intermediate appellate court to determine whether Defendant’s guilty plea was knowing and voluntary. The court of special appeals denied the motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the intermediate appellate court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion because the State effectively waived any argument that a remand on the merits was, in fact, necessary. View "State v. Rich" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Evidence of a medical diagnosis is not required to establish that a victim is mentally defective as defined by Md. Crim. Law 3-301(b). Petitioner challenged his convictions of second-degree rape and third-degree sexual offense, arguing, in part, that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions where the convictions were contingent on the victim’s status as a mentally defective individual and the State failed to establish that she had been diagnosed with either mental retardation or a mental disorder. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the jury was able reasonably to infer that the victim suffered from a mental defect that rendered her incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse and sexual contact under Md. Crim. Law 3-304(a)(2) and 3-307(a)(2); (2) the prosecutor erred by informing the jury during closing argument that Petitioner had admitted to taking advantage of the victim’s mental diminished capacity in an interview that was never introduced at trial, but the error did not influence the verdict; and (3) the trial court’s exclusion of the victim’s employment records was legally correct. View "Fuentes v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law