Recent Maryland Decisions 3/1/13

MARYLAND COURT OF APPEALS

Administrative Law, Maryland Public Information Act: The circuit court properly granted plaintiff’s request, pursuant to the Maryland Public Information Act, to inspect certain police records regarding claims of race-based motor vehicle stops and the handling of such claims, provided that any information identifying particular individuals was redacted from the records. Maryland Department of State Police v. Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches, No. 41, September Term, 2010. RecordFax No. 13-0124-20, 20 pages.

Civil Procedure, Class actions: A tender by defendant of individual relief to the putative class representative, prior to any determination whether the case may be brought as a class action, does not moot a class action if the individual plaintiff has not had a reasonable opportunity to seek class certification, nor does such a tender foreclose an award of punitive damages. Frazier v. Crystal Ford, Ltd., No. 93, September Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 13-0124-21, 41 pages.

COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS

Civil Procedure, Default judgment: Plaintiffs were entitled to a default judgment and damages against defendant where the notice of default was mailed to defendant’s “last known address,” as required by Rule 2-613(f), and where defendant had actual notice of the order of default and the hearing on damages and neither moved to vacate the order nor attended the hearing. Smith-Myers Corporation v. Sherill, No. 2034, September Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 13-0124-01, 31 pages.

Criminal Law, Sufficiency of evidence: The evidence presented at trial was sufficient to sustain defendant’s convictions for assault and gun-related charges beyond a reasonable doubt; however, the circuit court erred in failing to merge defendant’s sentence for wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun, with the sentence imposed for using a handgun during the commission of a crime of violence.Holmes v. State, No. 2128, September Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 13-0124-04, 42 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Miranda warnings: The circuit court erred in denying defendant’s motion to suppress statements she made, without the benefit of Miranda warnings, to detectives during a custodial interrogation. Moody v. State, No. 2018, September Term, 2010. RecordFax No. 13-0123-02, 25 pages.

U.S. 4TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

Civil Procedure, Arbitration under FINRA: FINRA rule requiring FINRA members to arbitrate disputes with a “customer” at customer’s request applied to financial services corporations that provided services to a not-for-profit health care organization in connection with the organization’s bond issues. UBS Financial Services, Incorporated v. Carilion Clinic, Incorporated, No. 12-2066. RecordFax No. 13-0123-60, 19 pages.

Constitutional Law, Municipal sign ordinance: Municipal sign ordinance was content-neutral restriction because it placed reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions only on physical characteristics of messages conveyed in signs and exempted certain categories of signs from those restrictions solely on basis of town’s legitimate interests of traffic safety and aesthetics, and ordinance satisfied intermediate scrutiny because it furthered substantial government interest of promoting aesthetics and public safety, was narrowly tailored to further that interest, and left open ample alternative channels of communication. Brown, Administratrix of Estate of Bowden v. Town of Cary, No. 11-1480. RecordFax No. 13-0122-60, 21 pages.

Criminal Law, Straw purchase of firearm: Defendant who purchased handgun for his uncle, assuring dealer that defendant himself was actual buyer of the gun, was properly convicted of making a false statement as material to the lawfulness of a firearm sale and of making a false statement with respect to information required to be kept in the records of a licensed firearms dealer, because even though defendant’s uncle was himself lawfully entitled to purchase handgun, identity of actual buyer of handgun was material to lawfulness of its acquisition by defendant and defendant made false and fictitious statement to dealer when he assured dealer that he was actual buyer. U.S. v. Abramski, No. 11-4992. RecordFax No. 13-0123-61, 19 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Amendment of indictment: Government’s alteration of superseding indictment charging defendant with conspiracy and other crimes did not violate defendant’s Fifth Amendment rights, because conspiracy proven was within scope of events alleged in unredacted indictment, and changes therefore did not constitute “constructive amendment” or “fatal variance.” U.S. v. Allmendinger, No. 11-5162. RecordFax No. 13-0123-62, 22 pages.

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