Cecil County shake-up

judgecartoonThough Cecil County may be under half a foot of snow today, its court system is plowing ahead with some administrative changes.

Judge Keith A. Baynes was named administrative judge of the Cecil County Circuit Court at the beginning of this year by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, according to a news release from the Maryland Judiciary.

Judge V. Michael Whelan is going back to the bench full time after serving as administrative judge since October 2010.

Baynes has been a judge on the Cecil County Circuit Court since January 2011. He is the presiding judge of the drug treatment court.

Law blog roundup

Welcome to Monday, a day for honoring those who truly fought to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Here are some news items to get the week started.

– I hope this isn’t the law at M&T Bank Stadium.

– This lawyer’s penalty exceeds 15 yards and loss of a down.

– A World War II veteran’s final acts raise questions.

– Was a federal judge’s character assassinated?

Law blog roundup

Welcome to Monday, the 377th anniversary of Harvard University’s founding. Here are some news items to get your week started.

– Supreme Court honors Maryland’s retired chief jurist.

Photo of Robert Bell

Retired Chief Judge Robert Bell (right), in an undated photo.

– House Intelligence Committee chair speaks in defense of surveillance.

– Warren Commission staffer cautions against conspiracy theories.

– New York’s attorney general asks that 1971 Attica prison-riot documents be unsealed.


Gov’t uncertainty forces cancellation of bench-bar conference

U.S. District Court GreenbeltThe government shutdown might be over but the collateral damage continues.

Friday was supposed to be the day of the 8th Biennial Bench-Bar Conference for the U.S. District Court in Maryland. But Tuesday, with the shutdown still ongoing, organizers announced the conference would be cancelled:

Although most of the conference is supported by the Attorney Admissions Fund, critical support is provided by government employees who are prohibited during a shutdown from performing nonessential functions. Unfortunately, because of the need to prepare,we could not wait any longer than Monday to advise the caterer and others whether the event would be held, so, reluctantly, we had to cancel.

Organizers added they hoped to reschedule the event soon.

The afternoon conference, held in conjunction with the Litigation Section Council of the Maryland State Bar Association and the Maryland Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, was to be held in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. Stephen S. Dunham, vice president and general counsel for Penn State, was scheduled to be the keynote speaker.

(Photo of U.S. District Court courtesy of Patch)

Law blog roundup

Welcome to the first Monday in October. Here are some news items to get the week started.

scalia– Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg discusses her future on the Supreme Court.

– Justice Antonin Scalia submits to a question-and-answer session.

– Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s legacy might be at risk.

- Justice Elena Kagan calls confirmation process “political theater.”




Law blog roundup

Welcome to Monday and a hoped-for end to the recent heat wave. Here are some news items to get the week started.

– Justice has not been delayed, merely sequestered.

– The George Zimmerman case is not over for its prosecutors.

– “Re-segregation” trial opens in North Carolina federal court.

– Lawyers rank below business executives — and journalists — in Pew Research Center poll.



Watts’ unusual dissent

Shirley M. Watts

Incoming Court of Appeals Judge Shirley M. Watts shakes hands with Gov. Martin O'Malley after her appointment Wednesday to Maryland's top court. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Incoming Court of Appeals Judge Shirley M. Watts filed an unusual dissenting opinion in one of her last cases as a Court of Special Appeals judge.

In a 2-1 decision in Costen v. State, the Court of Special Appeals vacated a criminal conviction and sent the case back to Worcester County Circuit Court because of an incorrect application of Maryland Rule 4-246(b), which deals with the waiver to the right of a jury trial.

Court of Special Appeals Judge Timothy E. Meredith, writing for the majority, cited the Court of Appeals’ May decision in Valonis v. State. In that case, the top court more clearly defined Rule 4-246(b), with Judges Robert N. McDonald and Sally D. Adkins dissenting.

Back to Watts: In Costen, not only does Watts dissent with the majority, but she also writes that she agrees with the dissenters in Valonis.

In other words, Watts disagrees with the law as established by the Court of Appeals.

Come September, should a similar case come before her, now she’ll have a chance to change that law.

A judge and a wedding

It was all wedded bliss this week for 82-year-old former Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Theresa A. Nolan.

Nolan married Tom Dugan, 76, in Bethany Beach on Monday, according to WUSA-TV in Washington.

Nolan served as a circuit court judge from 1997 until she retired in 2000. Previously, she worked as a judge in Prince George’s County District Court for 12 years.

Nolan, who started college at the age of 37, met Dugan two years ago in Ocean City. Her 11 children, 29 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren attended the ceremony.

Law blog roundup

Ally McBealHappy Monday to everyone and a special welcome back to the office to those who attended the Maryland State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting. Here are some links to peruse while you rub aloe into your sunburn:

– The federal judge who ruled Microsoft was “a monopoly” died Saturday.

– The New York Times has a profile of the federal judge in the morning-after pill case.

– The problem with a new state law in Florida that speeds up the execution process.

– A Tennessee judge is reminding female lawyers of appropriate courtroom attire. (HT: Above the Law)

Evidence suggests potential snags in forensic use of social media

Paul Grimm

U.S. District Court Judge Paul W. Grimm

It’s one thing to hear lawyers talk about the “CSI effect,” where jurors expect to see prosecutors present the high-tech evidence that regularly cracks cases on television.

It’s another thing to hear one of the foremost authorities on evidence and discovery say it.

“It’s more powerful than a great opening statement or a tear-inducing closing,” U.S. District Court Judge Paul W. Grimm told a packed seminar during the Maryland State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in Ocean City.

The Criminal Law and Practice Section’s panel mixed a discussion of the newest technologies with references to Popeye, Mr. Peabody and several utterances of the phrase “if you are of a certain age.”

Those of a certain age could recall where prosecutors needed someone on the witness stand to identify the suspect as the person who committed the crime.

Now, “cell phones are the new, best way to solve crimes,” said Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger. The first three questions investigators ask a suspect is for his name, if he has a cellphone and if he always has his cellphone on him, he added.

Shellenberger described a case where four people were convicted in connection with a murder based on a suspect’s cellphone address book and recent calls. Surveillance cameras helped corroborate the defendants were at the scene of a crime.

In another case, Baltimore County prosecutors were able to obtain a murder conviction by mapping the victim’s and defendant’s cellphone “pings” to cell phone towers to prove they were in the same location at the same time.

“Technology not only solved the crime, it proved the crime,” he said.

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