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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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Maryland passes bump stock ban

gavel2 1 Among the gun control issues raised by the tragic shooting in Las Vegas was a move to ban “bump stocks” which increase the rate of fire of semi-automatic weapons. 

The Maryland Legislature, among several gun measures, enacted and the governor signed Senate Bill 707 to address guns containing a “Rapid Fire Trigger Activator.”

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Passing of a groundbreaking attorney

gavel2Dovey Johnson Roundtree, a early civil rights attorney who was the first African American lawyer admitted to the District of Columbia Women’s Bar Association, has passed away at the age of 104. Her life and work as an attorney, though not as well known as other legal pioneers in the beginning of the civil rights movement, is well worth revisiting and celebrating.

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The new Maryland “Red Flag” gun law

gavel2Governor Hogan last month signed into law a new gun control measure known as a “red flag” law, joining Florida and several other states in the wake of the Parkland Florida school shooting. This law allows for certain persons to petition the court to order the temporary surrender of firearms from persons found to be dangerous in possessing them. The new law, found in the Public Safety Article, works as follows.

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When rape accusations are inadmissible

gavel2One of the issues that often arises in criminal prosecutions for sexual offenses is what if any evidence regarding the victim’s sexual history can be introduced in evidence. Maryland has a “rape shield” law that provides, with limited exceptions, that ordinarily evidence relating to a victim’s reputation for chastity or abstinence is not admissible at trial. Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals recently addressed whether evidence that the victim had accused others of rape should be admitted in a criminal trial, in an unreported opinion called Kevin Edward Snider v. State of Maryland.

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Proving human trafficking problems

gavel2There has but much publicity about the terrible problem of human trafficking by enticing minors to participate in prostitution. Maryland law makes it a crime to “persuade or entice or aid in the persuasion or enticement of an individual under the age of 16 years from the individual’s home or from the custody of the individual’s parent or guardian” for the purposes of prostitution. 

How that law applies was explored by Maryland’s intermediate appellate court in a recent case called Arthur Coleman v. State.

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Attorneys’ fees in frivolous civil suits

gavel2There has been much discussion in the news lately about lawsuits that some people might consider frivolous or unjustified. 

Even parties who win such lawsuits are rarely successful in having a Court order the losing side to pay their legal fees, since Maryland and most jurisdictions in most civil cases follow the American rule that each side pays their attorneys’ fees and litigation costs. 

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Home detention and being in custody

gavel2An alternative to incarcerating persons in a jail or prison that has become more frequently utilized in recent years is home detention, typically subject to significant restrictions. Maryland’s intermediate appellate Court earlier this month addressed whether a person subject to home detention should get credit against their prison sentence for time spent in home detention, in an opinion called Martez Johnson v. State of Maryland.

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