Join us in Ocean City without leaving your office

MSBASorry, In-House Interrogatory fans: We’re taking a week off as we’re down in Ocean City for the Maryland State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting.

The festivities kick off in a bit with the Young Lawyers’ Section Happy Hour (co-sponsored by The Daily Record). Check out the website the rest of the week for stories and blog posts about the annual meeting.

You can also can follow me and Kristi on Twitter and look for the #MSBAOC hashtag.

And, if you’re heading “downy ocean,” be sure to stop by our booth at the Clarion. Two words: Prize. Wheel.

What are your top stories of 2012?

Each December, The Daily Record runs a list of the year’s top stories. This year, want to hear from you.

Which local law story or stories would you include for 2012? A high-profile trial? A multimillion-dollar court verdict?

Post your thoughts in the comments section and it could appear in the newspaper along with our story.

Why I did not vote on Bell’s successor

I did not vote in The Daily Record’s recent poll on whom you think Gov. Martin O’Malley should name as the next Court of Appeals chief judge when Robert M. Bell retires July 6, his 70th birthday.

I could tell you the reason I did not vote is because my journalistic integrity does not allow me to play favorites, even anonymously, when it comes to the institutions and people I cover.

That would be only half right. The other reason is I am not very good at predicting high-court appointees.

It all started in the summer of 1990 when Justice William J. Brennan Jr. announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court. The choice for his successor seemed obvious to me.

The then-U.S. solicitor general had stepped down from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to take the job under then-President George H.W. Bush. Certainly, this man would be Bush’s choice for the Supreme Court.

But Bush passed on Kenneth W. Starr and selected a lesser-known 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge and former New Hampshire attorney general named David H. Souter.

I figured I’d quit while I was behind.

Across the country, less law school love

The George Washington University Law School is the latest to drop its enrollment as fewer people applied to law school for the upcoming academic year.

GW Law plans to keep its enrollment below 450, compared to this year’s class of 474, the National Law Journal reports.

Law schools across the country are grappling with upcoming fall enrollment in the face of the declining number of people taking the LSAT and even fewer applying to law school.

The University of California Hastings College of the Law announced this year that it also plans to decrease enrollment. Albany Law School, Creighton University School of Law and Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center also reduced class sizes during the 2011-2012 school year.

GW Law saw its number of applicants fall 15 percent, Law Dean Paul Schiff Berman told the Journal. It will lose some tuition revenue but plans to recoup it in increased fundraising and introducing new programs for students outside the law school, Berman said.

Baltimore schools are experiencing the similar problems. The University of Baltimore School of Law told The Daily Record  in March that its applicant numbers were down 17 percent this admissions cycle, but University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law officials were less concerned.

Send us your Maryland Moment

The Daily Record’s “Photo of the Day” is a chance for our photographers to capture slices of life in their travels across Maryland. But we know there is much more going on in the state than what their lenses find.

That’s where you come in.

The Daily Record wants your photographs of what’s happening in Maryland for a new feature, “Maryland Moment.” The photo could be related to the news of the day or it could be a shot right outside your window (or of your window, right). It can be an action shot or just something very adorable.

You can send us your photos by using the form here. We ask that the photos be of something from the last week or so; we don’t want photos of Fourth of July fireworks in February.

If we like your Maryland Moment, we’ll post it online where our Photo of the Day normally resides and might publish it in the print edition as well.

So happy picture-taking. We can’t wait to see what develops.

What are your top stories of the year?

The Daily Record will release next week our list of the top stories of 2011. But before we do, we want to hear from you. What do you think were the top stories of the past year?

If you’re looking for suggestions from us, sorry. We don’t want to influence your choices. Besides, as a loyal reader, you already know the big business and law stories from the past year.

Leave your nominees as a comment on the blog or, if you prefer, send me an email with the subject line “Top stories of 2011.” We need to hear from you by Tuesday; our list will appear in Friday’s paper.

Thanks and happy holidays!

Nice guys can finish first

Jay Perman, the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s new president, has no problem being known as a nice guy. His annual commencement speech while dean at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine was even about the importance of doctors being nice to patients.

But Perman told reporters and editors at The Daily Record last week that what surprises him are people who view nice as a liability. He recalled early in his career a colleague at the University of California, San Francisco, said Perman “would never make it” because of his niceness.

“So ha-ha,” Perman said dryly. “I’m here to say that’s not true.”

Perman describes himself as nice by nature but also in a pragmatic way.

“When you’re nice, it becomes that much easier to demand of those who are not nice that they shape up or get out,” he said. “That’s why it’s been so effective for me.”

That Perman is a pediatrician has also helped him as an administrator. (You can insert your own joke here about what caring for children and overseeing a faculty have in common.)

“I think if there’s a case for a leader being nice, that sort of self-selection goes into choosing pediatrics,” he said. ‘There are no harsher critics of nasty adults than children. They will not have it.”

MSBA’s predicament: Principle or past president?

Well, this could get awkward.

Alison Asti, who filed Monday to run for a seat on the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, is a past president of the Maryland State Bar Association. So, do you think she can count on the MSBA’s endorsement?

Not likely.

The MSBA’s longstanding policy is to endorse the sitting judges, and a vote for Asti would be a vote to unseat Judge Ronald H. Jarashow (who joined the court on March 1) or Judge Laura S. Kiessling (Feb. 19).

Bet that next Board of Governors’ meeting will be fun, won’t it?

I should mention that Asti also chairs The Daily Record’s independent Editorial Advisory Board, but this paper has a foolproof way of dealing with endorsements. We don’t make them.

Who needs Prosser? We have Tamber

Move over Prosser on Torts and make room for Tamber on the CSI Effect.

Writing for a unanimous Maryland Court of Appeals last week, Judge Lynne A. Battaglia displayed what we at On The Record regard as the great, good sense to cite our esteemed colleague Caryn Tamber’s seminal blog post, The CSI effect, in Maryland and Massachusetts. Battaglia referred to the landmark work in her opinion Friday overturning two second-degree murder convictions.

Battaglia concluded that now-retired Baltimore City Circuit Judge Charles G. Bernstein had improperly asked prospective jurors if they could put aside the television show “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “convict a defendant without scientific evidence.” She said that question improperly “suggested that the [potential] jury’s only option was to convict, regardless of whether scientific evidence was adduced at trial.”

In another self-serving plug, we at On The Record note that Battaglia also cited Cynthia Di Pasquale’s article in The Daily Record of Sept. 8, 2006, Beyond the Smoking Gun: Maryland’s Legal Community Debates the ‘CSI Effect.’

The courts and the tweets

I’ve come to view the social norms of the courtroom as very similar to a house of worship. You dress up nice, speak in hushed tones and try not to snore during a sermon or closing argument.

I also know you don’t whip out your cell phone in either sanctuary. If you have to call someone or need to have an in-depth conversation, you step out into the hallway as far away from everyone else as possible. It’s both considerate and common sense.

I was thinking about this as I read Andy Green’s criticism of the Baltimore City Circuit Court’s ban on Twitter in the courthouse, prompted by the Dixon trial and verdict. As The Daily Record’s Official Dixon Verdict Tweeter, I guess I’m part of the reason why the ban was enacted.

My tweets, for the record, came from the hallway outside the courtroom. Granted, most of my tweeting was done while we were awaiting a verdict, so I wasn’t leaving the courtroom during any proceeding. But when court was in session, I would try to leave quietly during a break in the action, even if that was simply someone else speaking.

Of course, the nature of the Dixon trial meant there were at least a half-dozen people “quietly” leaving the courtroom at the same time as me. Judge Dennis M. Sweeney solved the problem on at least two occasions by allowing a group of reporters to sit in the back of the courtroom and leave to Tweet and report on his cue. Once we left the courtroom, though, we were not allowed back inside until the proceeding ended.

So while you’re “working” from home today, answer me this: How would you handle Twitter if you were a judge?