Trial judges must always be neutral

gavel2It is not uncommon to see judges portrayed on television or in the movies as essentially taking over the trial and actively participating to help one side or the other. It is an important maxim in criminal law that an impartial judge is essential to a defendant receiving a fair trial. 

What may constitute a judge departing from that impartial role was explored by Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals in a recent opinion in a case called Brandon Payton v. State of Maryland. 


Cellphone helps lead to murder conviction

  • Published in Crime

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ROCKVILLE – A man and woman each face up to 30 years in prison after the Circuit Court jury found them both guilty of second-degree murder of the woman’s husband, State’s Attorney spokesperson Ramon Korionoff said Friday.

The jury spent more than 11 hours over two days discussing the case, Korionoff said. The pair’s sentencing date is July 25.

Takoma Park Police arrested Larlane Pannell-Brown, age 70, and Hussain Ali Zadeh, 50, in June 2015 for the murder of Cecil Brown, Panell-Brown’s husband, according to court documents. The arrests followed a months-long investigation after police found Brown dead in the woman’s backyard in August 2014.


The ultimate question for potential jurors

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The 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects a criminal defendant’s right to trial by an impartial jury. Part of the process to assure impartiality in a jury panel is the process of voir dire, whereby the trial judge asks questions of the prospective jurors to make sure they are qualified to serve, and to seek to uncover any reasons a juror could not be fair and impartial. One of the questions which must be asked, if requested, in a criminal case is the Defense Witness question.

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