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The real truth about truth in court

gavel2 1 One of the ways to attempt to undermine the credibility of a witness at trial is to offer testimony about a person’s character for telling the truth. 

Under Maryland law, certain witnesses are now allowed to give an opinion as to whether another witness is a truthful person. 

Just how this works in a criminal case was explored by Maryland’s highest Court in a 6-1 decision this week in the case of Julius Devincentz, Jr. v. State of Maryland.

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Self-incrimination and using the “5th”

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Maryland law on immunity in drug overdose cases

gavel2 1 Maryland’s Criminal Procedure statutes provides for immunity from arrest or criminal sanction when a call is made for medical assistance because of a suspected drug overdose. 

Whether that immunity extends to a person who has overdosed when someone else calls 911 was explored in a reported opinion last week from Maryland’s intermediate appellate Court in a case called Christopher Noble v. State of Maryland.

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Checking in with the credibility expert

gavel2 1 A basic principal applicable to all jury trials, including in criminal cases, is that the jury is to determine what testimony to believe and to decide the facts. How this principal applies in a jury trial involving sexual abuse of a minor was explored by Maryland’s highest court in a recent case called James Adam Fallin v. State of Maryland.

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The folly of fleeing an accident scene

gavel2Under Maryland law, a person involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident has the duty to stop and remain at the scene, to render aid to the victim, and to report the accident to the police. 

Maryland’s intermediate appellate Court in an unreported opinion last week addressed what other crimes fleeing the scene of a fatal collision may prove, in a case called Richard Curtis v. State of Maryland. 

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Congratulations to sitting judges

gavel2This week the Republican and Democratic voters of Montgomery County voted to elect to full fifteen year terms seven sitting judges previously appointed by the Governor as Associate Judges of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. The judges were required to go through an, because under the Maryland Constitution they are required to stand for election in the first general election after their appointment to the bench.

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The distinct odor of marijuana

gavel2The Maryland legislature has now decriminalized the possession of less than 10 ounces of marijuana. However, use of the odor of marijuana is still used by the police in making arrests, as was explored by a divided panel from Maryland’s intermediate appellate court in a case called Rasherd Lewis v. State of Maryland.

The majority opinion indicates that Lewis was convicted of wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun, after his motion to suppress the handgun from evidence on 4th amendment unreasonable search and seizure grounds was denied by the trial judge.

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And now the right to a speedy trial

gavel2The 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution includes that in criminal cases a person accused “shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.” How the courts go about deciding whether a person charged with a crime got a speedy trial, and whether his or her constitutional rights were violated, was explained by a case reported from Maryland’s intermediate appellate court last week called Anthony Greene v. State of Maryland.

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State passes new domestic gun law

gavel2Among the new gun control measures passed by the Maryland Legislature and signed by the Governor in 2018 addressing guns owned or possessed by persons convicted of crimes of domestic violence. The new statute, which was House Bill 1646, amends the Criminal Law Article to require persons convicted of such crimes to surrender their firearms and provides as follows.

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Self-defense requires fear of harm

gavel2In criminal cases involving violence, the defense of self-defense is often raised by a criminal defendant. In a reported opinion from Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals called Donovan Bynes v. State, senior Judge Charles Moylan explored what the elements are to allow such a defense to be considered by a jury.

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