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Law digest – 7/30/14

MARYLAND COURT OF APPEALS 

Administrative Law, License suspension: Under the interstate Driver License Compact, a licensing state is afforded no discretion as to whether to record on a driver’s record a conviction reported to it by another party state; therefore, a driver may not, at an administrative license suspension hearing in Maryland, challenge the validity of an out-of- state conviction recorded on his or her driving record under the Compact. Motor Vehicle Administration v. Salop, No. 93, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0721-20, 20 pages.

Civil Procedure, Final judgment: The consolidation of two actions required a joint disposition to achieve finality of judgment given the interconnectedness of the actions, the nature of the claims, and Maryland’s policy disfavoring piecemeal appeals; therefore, where circuit court resolved one of plaintiff’s claims but did not resolve a related claim that a state agricultural statute was unconstitutional, its orders did not constitute a final judgment. Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc. v. Maryland Dep’t of Agriculture, No. 87, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0718-20, 29 pages.

Family Law, Divorce: Where a property settlement agreement in a divorce allocated a share of the husband’s future pension and death benefits from an ERISA-exempt government retirement plan to his ex-wife, but that provision was not formally communicated to the retirement plan, the circuit court had authority to issue a posthumous order directing the plan to allocate such benefits to his ex-wife and to impose a constructive trust on benefits already paid to his second wife. Robinette v. Hunsecker, No. 90, Sept. Term, 2013, RecordFax No. 14-0718-21, 21 pages.

Professional Responsibility, Indefinite suspension: Attorney violated Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct regarding competence, safekeeping property and conduct prejudicial to administration of justice by negligently mishandling his attorney trust account in connection with nine matters, withdrawing cash from attorney trust account on three occasions, and failing to properly account for and disburse settlement funds in prompt fashion, warranting an indefinite suspension from the practice of law with right to apply for reinstatement after six months. Attorney Grievance Commission v. Mungin, Misc. Docket AG No. 88, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 14-0718-24, 40 pages.

Torts, Wrongful death: Apportionment of damages among different causes is appropriate only where the injury in question is reasonably divisible among multiple causes; therefore, where the injury in question was death caused by lung cancer and there was a single tortfeasor involved in the litigation, apportionment of damages was inappropriate. Carter v. Wallace & Gale Asbestos Settlement Trust, No. 84, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0721-21, 56 pages.

MARYLAND COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS 

Criminal Law, Driving on suspended license: Even though evidence showed that defendant’s license had expired subsequent to its suspension, evidence was sufficient to support defendant’s conviction of driving on a suspended license because the expiration of defendant’s license did not invalidate the suspension and defendant’s privilege to drive thus remained suspended despite the expiration of his license. White v. State, No. 1187, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0627-01, 10 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Facts not in evidence: Prosecutor’s closing argument at trial was improper in that it relied on facts not in evidence (specifically, whether a cell phone charger in the victim’s car was compatible with the defendant’s phone) in an attempt to impeach the defendant’s credibility, and the error was not harmless because the case turned heavily on credibility. Jones v. State, No. 1106, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-0627-00, 33 pages.

Family Law, Termination of parental rights: It was not an abuse of discretion for juvenile court to terminate mother’s parental rights to her minor child, where court found, based on ample evidence, that the mother was an unfit parent and that termination of her parental rights would be in the daughter’s best interest. In re: Adoption/Guardianship of Jasmine D., No. 1470, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 14-0630-00, 25 pages.

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