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Law digest: 12/20/10

MARYLAND COURT OF APPEALS

Family Law, Termination of parental rights: Circuit court did not abuse its discretion in allowing child’s social worker to render her expert opinion as to whether the child would be at risk if returned to her mother, since social worker’s license, education, and familiarity with the case sufficiently qualified her as an expert. In re Tatianna B., No. 36, Sept. Term, 2010. RecordFax No. 10-1203-20

MARYLAND COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS

Criminal Procedure, Plea agreements: Since defendant reasonably should have known that he might be ordered to pay restitution to his victim, the circuit court did not breach the terms of the defendant’s plea agreement when it imposed restitution not expressly included in the agreement. Lafontant v. State, No. 1228, Sept. Term, 2008. RecordFax No. 10-1201-00

Criminal Procedure, Vouching for witness at trial: Defendant was entitled to a new trial because the prosecutor’s comments in rebuttal closing argument on the credibility of the state’s witnesses constituted inadmissible vouching. Sivells v. State, No. 1480, Sept. Term, 2009. RecordFax No. 10-1202-03

Evidence, Admissibility of cell phone information: The trial court did not err in admitting testimony regarding information stored in the defendant’s cell phone because the information did not constitute hearsay and was sufficiently authenticated by direct and circumstantial evidence. Carpenter v. State, No. 2927, Sept. Term, 2008. RecordFax No. 10-1202-02

Evidence, Admissibility of threats against victim: The trial court did not err in allowing the state to present evidence of threats made by the defendant against the victim and her family to deter the victim from testifying. Copeland v. State, No. 940, Sept. Term, 2009. RecordFax No. 10-1202-01

Torts, Liability of property owners for lead poisoning: The circuit court abused its discretion in admitting a consent order into evidence in a lead paint negligence action because the order was not relevant and its probative value was substantially outweighed by the unfair prejudice to the owners. Rochkind, et al. v. Finch, No. 01694, Sept. Term, 2008. RecordFax No. 10-1201-01