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Law digest: 1/23/12


Criminal Procedure, Right to counsel at bail determination: Under Maryland’s Public Defender statute, an indigent defendant has a right to appointed counsel at his or her initial appearance before a judicial officer in order for the judicial officer to determine whether there was probable cause for the arrest and, if so, whether the defendant should be released on his or her own recognizance, on bail, or not at all, because this initial appearance is a “critical proceeding” in the disposition of the case. DeWolfe v. Richmond, No. 34, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0104-20.

Election Law, Ballot questions: The Maryland General Assembly has the power to enact general legislation before, and contingent on, the adoption of a constitutional amendment that it has proposed to the voters, and as a result, the General Assembly’s enactment of senate bill, which enacted comprehensive legislation that would regulate the implementation and the allocation of revenues originating from video lottery terminals in Maryland contingent on voter ratification of a constitutional amendment proposed by house bill which proposed to legalize video slot machine gambling and implement the Governor’s proposed revenue raising program, was constitutional. Stop Slots MD v. State Board of Elections, No. 87, Sept. Term, 2008. RecordFax No. 12-0106-20.


Administrative Law, Supplemental Security Income: Although intelligence testing examiner testified that Social Security disability claimant was functioning in the mild level of mental retardation, there existed substantial evidence to support finding by Administrative Law Judge that claimant was not disabled within the definition of the Social Security Act, where ALJ discredited examiner’s opinion and rejected the validity of the IQ score reported by examiner based on examiner’s failure to attest to the validity of the test results, as well as on inconsistency of the results with claimant’s actual functioning and the notes of treating psychiatrists. Hancock v. Astrue, No. 11-1001. RecordFax No. 12-0105-60.

Civil Procedure, Jurisdiction under FSIA: For purposes of analyzing subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”), a foreign state and its armed forces are not separate legal persons, and as a result, court had subject matter jurisdiction over company’s claim against Republic of Iraq alleging breach of a contract entered into by Iraq’s Ministry of Defense. Wye Oak Technology, Incorporated v. Republic of Iraq, No. 10-1874. RecordFax No. 11-1229-60.

Constitutional Law, Second Amendment: Given defendant’s history of domestic violence and use of firearms, intermediate scrutiny, rather than strict scrutiny, applied to defendant’s Second Amendment challenge to statute prohibiting a person from knowingly possessing firearms and ammunition while subject to a domestic violence protective order. Because the government established a reasonable fit between the statute and its purpose of reducing gun violence, the statute was constitutional as applied to defendant. United States v. Chapman, No. 10-5071. RecordFax No. 12-0104-60.

Criminal Law, False ID: Statute making it a crime to knowingly and without lawful authority produce an identification document, authentication feature, or a false identification document if the false identification document is or “appears to be” issued under the authority of the United States was not unconstitutionally vague, and jury instruction properly stated the requisite mens rea. United States v. Jaensch, No. 10-5013. RecordFax No. 11-1229-62.

Criminal Procedure, Invasive search conducted in public: Police officers’ sexually invasive search of a handcuffed suspect who had previously been searched and did not appear to be armed, which was conducted in a public place and during which officer used a knife to remove a plastic baggie of cocaine that was secured to suspect’s penis by a rubber band, was unreasonable, and evidence seized during the search was therefore subject to exclusion under the Fourth Amendment. United States v. Edwards, No. 10-4256. RecordFax No. 11-1229-61.