Twitter proves its worth again

On Monday, I had a cover story in Maryland Lawyer about an innovative and mildly controversial new program in Baltimore that will bring a service dog into child abuse forensic interviews and courtrooms. If you haven’t checked it out, please do, and make sure to watch the amazing audio slideshow accompanying it, created by our photographer Max Franz.

I got the idea for the story via Twitter, proving once again that the micro-blogging service is not (just) a time-waster. Here’s how it worked: a few weeks ago, one of the fine people I follow (I wish I could remember who) tweeted a link about how best to use dogs in the courtroom. It sounded pretty odd to me, which is often the hallmark of a great story.  I clicked on the link and got to a fact sheet hosted by the main site of Courthouse Dogs, a Seattle organization that promotes the use of dogs in the judicial system.

I called the group to find out more and asked whether anyone in Maryland was using a courthouse dog. Happily for this journalist, Baltimore had just gotten a dog, Kelly, only a few weeks before. I set up a meeting with Kelly and his human colleagues, and the article came together quickly after that. The Daily Record was able to bring you the story of Kelly the Baltimore courthouse dog before any other news outlet.

So there you have it, folks: Twitter is, in fact, useful.

This Week in Maryland Lawyer

On the Cover:  Welcome to the first Monday in October! This morning marks the Supreme Court debut of Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Assistant Public Defender Celia Anderson Davis, who will argue over a Hagerstown man’s child sex abuse conviction. The question is whether a request for counsel, years earlier, should have stopped police from questioning the suspect without a lawyer after they obtained additional information. Read the main story, some advice from Gansler’s predecessor, and a preview of the new term.

In the News: The Court of Appeals heard argument in a legal malpractice case that challenges the “case within a case” methodology … the ban on self-represented lawyers claiming attorneys’ fees applies even to bad faith or frivolous actions, the Court of Special Appeals holds … Maryland Legal Services Corp. renews its quest for a higher filing-fee surcharge … Sen. Ben Cardin finds a civil audience for his health-care talk at UB Law… and a former CBS Early Show personality appeals a ruling that knocked out his medical malpractice claim.


This Week in Maryland Lawyer

On the cover: With their progressive pilot potentially on the chopping block, the OPD’s Neighborhood Defenders in Park Heights are defending not only their clients but their problem-solving approach. Also, Caryn Tamber talks to University of Maryland law professor Danielle Citron about her research into online gender harassment and the law.

In the news: An EPA official says the agency wants more weapons in its arsenal; Maryland’s top court upholds a sex-abuse conviction based on the testimony of a 6-year-old victim; Mike’s Train House is sued for infringement; and an offshoot of the “driving while black” case will be the subject of a rare Court of Special Appeals en banc hearing.


  • Verdicts & Settlements features the case of an HIV-positive teacher who was fired from his job at a private elementary school in Arnold.

  • Before there was “The Power of Nice” or his success as a sports agent, there was the Modern Bar Review Course. In My First/Business, Ron Shapiro reflects on the lessons learned from his initial foray into commerce.

  • In Opinion/Commentary, Jack L.B. Gohn weighs in on the narrowing difference between blogs and journalism, while Edward J. Levin points out a key requirement under a Maryland deed of trust: naming an individual as the trustee. 


This Week in Maryland Lawyer

ON THE COVER: Justice Decayed? — Baltimore City Circuit courthouses continue corroding amid calls for major renovations or — better yet — a new courthouse, Brendan Kearney reports.

Look out, PACER: Here comes RECAP. This new software tool enables those who now pay 8 cents per page for documents from the online Public Access to Court Electronic Records system to get them for free. But the federal courts, which sponsor PACER, warn that some uses of RECAP (PACER spelled backwards) are forbidden and could raise privacy concerns.

In Breaking News, attorney Lester A.D. Adams can keep his license even after a federal judge found he falsely signed and notarized documents; a couple has no objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the intimate photos they keep on a cell phone; and Annapolis police had probable cause to detain a man for nine months on murder charges that were later dropped.

A quartet of counselors recall when they first got the feeling they could succeed as attorneys.

In Verdicts & Settlements, First Mariner Bank reaches a modified confessed judgment of $9 million with hotelier Laurel Holdings LLC, which had defaulted on loans.

Columnist Joe Surkiewicz praises the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, and columnist Jim Astrachan scorns politicians who pilfer property.

Stay up-to-date with our Law Digest, which includes cases from the Maryland Court of Appeals, Maryland Court of Special Appeals and U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

This week in Maryland Lawyer

ON THE COVER: Life after Law — You’ve earned your J.D., passed the bar and taken the oath. But now you realize you no longer want to practice law. Caryn Tamber spotlights lawyers who have chosen alternative careers.

A consumer, saying the Gateway computer he bought at Best Buy is defective,  challenges the arbitration clause in the manufacturer’s warranty — and wins in the Court of Special Appeals. Find out how in Danny Jacobs’ report on Barrington D. Henry v. Gateway Inc., et al.

In Breaking News, former Nigerian presidential candidate Godson M. Nnaka, a Baltimore lawyer, runs afoul of the Attorney Grievance Commission — but is nowhere to be found; and the Maryland Comptroller owes Lenox Inc. a refund of more than $280,000 on taxes the china company paid on a product-handling system at its Hagerstown facility.

Upper Marlboro lawyer Rick Jaklitsch presides over the Terrapin Club, the University of Maryland’s booster group that raises money and provides scholarships for the more than 700 student-athletes on the 27 varsity teams at College Park.

In Verdicts & Settlements, a toymaker settles with its founder’s Hunt Valley consulting company over fees and royalties.

Guest columnist Linda D. Schwartz provides advice on what to do upon receiving a letter from Bar Counsel.

Stay up-to-date with our Law Digest, which includes cases from the Maryland Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court, Maryland.

This week in Maryland Lawyer

ON THE COVER: Top court returns — The Court of Appeals begins its September 2009 term this week. The high court will hear cases addressing the cap on non-economic damages, legal malpractice and whether a truck driver can be guilty of vehicular manslaughter for leaving the scene of a gravel spill from his truck.

Also on the Court of Appeals — the judges recall their summer break; columnist Chris Brown ranks last year’s votes; and plaintiffs’ lawyers Henry E. Dugan Jr. and George S. Tolley III explain the importance of last term’s landmark informed-consent decision.

In Breaking News, Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen L. Holton fights new charges; an immigration lawyer is disbarred after pleading guilty to fraud; and an attorney owes fees for having filed suit without sufficient justification.

In Verdicts & Settlements, a motorcyclist receives $200,000 in damages after colliding with a hand truck that fell from a passing box truck.

U.S. District Magisitrate Judge Charles B. Day of Greenbelt has no plans to take it easy after stepping down from the Federal Magistrate Judges Association after a decade in senior posts at the group.

Stay up-to-date with our Law Digest, which includes cases from the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court, Maryland.

This week in Maryland Lawyer

solo.jpgThey didn’t set out to hang out their shingles — at least, not yet — but the economy made it the most attractive option for these new solo practitioners. Read The Accidental Solo, this related story on setting up shop, and these tips on running your own practice.

The University of Maryland law school’s Appellate and Post-Conviction Advocacy Clinic highlights its summer wins and is taking a setback in stride, as one of its recent clients got arrested on a charge similar to the one the clinic helped get expunged.

Topping the news are stories about the firing of Public Defender Nancy Forster and a citation against a Charles County judge for letting the air out of a court worker’s tire. In Legal Briefs, Chief Judge Bell sends another letter – this time, seeking Social Security numbers for the Client Protection Fund.

In Verdicts & Settlements, a Baltimore jury awards more than $1 million to the children of a young woman who died after surgery to resolve her blood clots. And, in Unbillable Hours, meet a Montgomery County lawyer who coaches high school football players in more ways than one.

PLUS: On the Move; columns by Legal Aid’s Joe Surkiewicz and Dolan Media’s Justin Rebello; and our weekly Law Digest, featuring eight opinions by the 4th Circuit.

This Week in Maryland Lawyer

ON THE COVER: First impressions – The paper chase, with all its hopes and fears, begins for incoming University of Baltimore law students. Also, Danny Jacobs looks at the economy’s effect on admissions at UB and the University of Maryland School of Law.

Spitting is not adequate provocation for a hot-blooded response, says the Court of Special Appeals.

In Breaking News, three MBAs play online matchmaker for small businesses and small law firms; Jos. A. Bank can get the name of the anonymous shareholder who raised a yellow flag about overstocking; and Bank of America can pursue discovery in its defense of a lawsuit by former Raven Michael McCrary.

In Verdicts & Settlements, a Baltimore jury awards more than $1 million to a woman whose right leg was injured in a crash between her car and a gasoline tanker. 

Attorney Anna S. Kelly makes sure a disabled man gets the money his late mother left for him in Pro Bono.

Stay up-to-date with our Legal Briefs and Law Digest, with cases from the Maryland Court of Appeals; U.S. District Court, Maryland; and the Office of Administrative Hearings.

This week in Maryland Lawyer

ON THE COVER: The next question — Maryland, already ahead of the Confrontation Clause curve in DUI cases, wonders just how far the high court will go next time.

Chief judge reaches out to lawyers, again.

In Breaking News, McCrary seeks millions from Bank of America and the 4th Circuit upholds a win for McGuire Woods.

In Verdicts & Settlements, poultry workers’ damages set at $460,000; out-of-state retailer owes $350,000 for unpaid rent; and Mensa and a pharma-testing firm settle after verdict.

Read about a different sort of foreign exchange in Pro Bono.

James M. Kramon writes about what Sotomayor should have said in his commentary On the Supreme Court.

Stay up-to-date with our Legal Briefs and Law Digest, with cases from the Maryland Court of Appeals, U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. District Court, Maryland.

This week in Maryland Lawyer

ON THE COVER: Beyond PowerPoint — The evolution of courtroom technology is under way, and it will be computerized.

For Venable partner, alleged conduct could bring criminal, civil or AGC sanctions.

In Breaking News, panel tackles ‘ethical minefields’ and diversity talk draws a small crowd at the ABA annual meeting; Top court declines to consider whether state and Indian laws require same reunificiation efforts; and a disbarred attorney is jailed for contempt.

Read about a jury’s award of $1.85 million to the parents of a baby who died three days after his birth in Verdicts & Settlements.

In My First, Stanley Needleman talks about his first office cat, Spike.

Andrew H. Baida ponders whether to report or not to report in The Art of Appellate Advocacy.

In Of Service, Joe Surkiewicz writes about how federal restrictions on Legal Aid hurt foster children in Baltimore.

Stay up-to-date with our Legal Briefs and Law Digest, with cases from the Maryland Court of Appeals, Maryland Court of Special Appeals, U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. District Court, Maryland.