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When commercial information is public information

gavel2 1 Maryland has a Public Information Act which allows for the release of government documents upon request, similar to the federal Freedom of Information Act. Courts are often called upon to decide whether a citizen is entitled to obtain documents in the government’s possession. Maryland’s highest court last week addressed efforts to obtain commercial information through a MPIA request in a case called Jayson Amster v. Rushern Baker, County Executive for Prince George’s County.

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Handcuffed but not arrested

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One area of criminal law that has been the subject of many appellate opinions is the notion of “stop and frisk,” as originally adopted in the Supreme Court’s opinion in 1968 in Terry v. Ohio. Although the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures protects persons from a warrantless arrest without probable cause, where the police have a reasonable suspicion that a person may be armed and dangerous that is enough to stop them and frisk or search their person for a weapon. Whether this allows the police to actually handcuff such a person was explored by a recent case from Maryland’s highest court called Ira Chase v. State.

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De facto parents rights in Maryland

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Given the advent of same sex marriage, courts in Maryland are addressing issues of divorce, child custody and visitation issues arising from dissolution of those relationships as well as traditional marriage. Earlier this month, Maryland’s highest Court recognized the changes that have occurred involving same sex relationships and the law, in a case  called Michelle Conover v. Brittany Conover.

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Firing your lawyer without just cause

scales of justiceThe right to counsel in criminal cases in which the accused is exposed to incarceration is vigorously protected by the courts. Most of the time public defenders in this day and age are assigned to represent defendants who cannot afford to hire counsel. What happens when the defendant tries to fire his public defender was explored recently by Maryland’s highest Court in a case called State of Maryland v. William Westray.

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Filling legislative vacancies

scales of justiceThe political party system is enshrined in Maryland’s Constitution and statutes, including requiring that each party have a Central Committee in each County whose members are elected during that party’s primary election. The State Constitution in fact includes a role for those party committees in selecting legislators to fill any vacancies that occur in either House, which was explored in an opinion recently authored by Chief Judge Barbera of the Court of Appeals in a case called Kathy Fuller v. Republican Central Committee of Carroll County.

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The effects of witness protection

scales of justiceWitness intimidation has become a major problem in many localities when the State seeks to get witnesses to come forward and testify in criminal cases. On occasion the prosecution may bear the cost of keeping a witness in protective housing prior to trial. The effect of this on the criminal trial was explored recently by Maryland’s highest Court in the case of Dontae Preston v. State.

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