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Law digest: 2/21/12

MARYLAND COURT OF APPEALS

Civil Rights, Handicap discrimination under county code: Plaintiff’s latex allergy was an impairment which substantially limited her major life activities of socialization and parenting, and thus was a “handicap” within the meaning of the Howard County Code and, therefore, defendants’ failure to provide accommodations to plaintiff constituted discrimination in violation of state law and the county code. Meade v. Shangri-La Partnership, No. 128, Sept. Term, 2008. RecordFax No. 12-0128-20.

Real Property, Judicial immunity: Defendants, acting as court-appointed trustees, were not public officials and therefore were not entitled to absolute judicial immunity or qualified public official immunity for their actions in connection with the judicial sale of plaintiff’s condominium. D’Aoust v. Diamond, No. 5, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0131-20.

COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS

Criminal Procedure, Detention of visitors during execution of search warrant: The trial court did not err in denying defendant’s motion to suppress where, in executing a search warrant, the police acted reasonably in temporarily detaining defendant who was walking towards the premises being searched. Fields v. State, No. 0656, Sept. Term, 2009. RecordFax No. 12-0202-00.

Criminal Law, Felony murder: Where the evidence was insufficient to convict defendant of distributing marijuana, it was also insufficient to convict him of felony murder based on that underlying offense. Kohler v. State, No. 2150, Sept. Term, 2009. RecordFax No. 12-0202-02.

Criminal Law, Theft: Where defendant was convicted under Criminal Law §7–104(d) for passing a counterfeit check, the judgment of the circuit court was reversed because the State failed to prove that defendant knew that the check was counterfeit at the time she presented it for cashing. Weems v. State, No. 2782, Sept. Term, 2009. RecordFax No. 12-0202-03.

Criminal Procedure, Post-conviction relief: CP §7–103(b)(1), requiring post-conviction petitioners to show extraordinary cause for filing a petition more than ten years after a sentence other than death is imposed, did not apply to defendant’s amended petition filed after defendant filed a timely, original pro se petition. Poole v. State, No. 2098, Sept. Term, 2008. RecordFax No. 12-0201-00.

U.S. 4TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

Civil Procedure, Attorneys’ Fees: Although defendant prevailed against EEOC in lawsuit alleging violations of Title VII of Civil Rights Act, district court properly denied defendant’s motion for attorneys’ fees because the court reasonably determined that EEOC’s claim was not frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Great Steaks, Incorporated, No. 10-1756. RecordFax No. 12-0126-60.

Civil Rights, Sovereign immunity: Federal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over a Title VII discrimination lawsuit against the Secretary of Homeland Security, which was filed in North Carolina state court and removed to federal court, because the United States and the Secretary did not consent to suit in North Carolina state court; removal to federal court did not cure this jurisdictional defect. Bullock v. Napolitano, No. 10-1222. RecordFax No. 12-0123-60.

Criminal Law, Honest-services fraud: Public school official’s conviction for honest-services fraud was reversed because the court’s erroneous jury instruction regarding honest-services fraud, which put forth a conflict-of-interest theory of guilt for honest-services fraud, was not harmless. United States v. Hornsby, No. 08-5267. RecordFax No. 12-0125-60.

Criminal Procedure, Jurisdiction: Because the revocation of a term of supervised release imposed under 18 U.S.C. §3583(e)(3) does not “terminate” the release, district court had jurisdiction to impose a second prison sentence for defendant’s violations of his supervised release after district court effectively revoked his supervised release and imposed a prison sentence in a prior hearing. United States v. Winfield, No. 10-5032. RecordFax No. 12-0117-61.

Criminal Procedure, Jury instructions: In a prosecution for murder with intent to prevent the victim from communicating with federal law enforcement, the jury instruction was improper in light of Fowler v. U.S., decided by the Supreme Court while defendant’s appeal was pending; however, the error was harmless because, based on the uncontested evidence, no rational juror could have found the government failed to establish the federal nexus Fowler requires. United States v. Ramos-Cruz, No. 08-4647. RecordFax No. 12-0118-60.

Immigration Law, Standard of review: Board of Immigration Appeals erred in reviewing factual findings of immigration judge under the de novo standard of review instead of under the clearly erroneous standard prescribed by its governing regulations. Turkson v. Holder, No. 10-1984. RecordFax No. 12-0126-61.

Labor & Employment, Civil Rights Act: School superintendent’s two comments to African-American plaintiff employee that plaintiff had “good hair” and that “some of us have more melanin in our skin than others” were not sufficient to form the basis for retaliation claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Session v. Montgomery County School Board, No. 10-1827. RecordFax No. 12-0125-61.

Torts, Medical Device Amendments Act : Plaintiff’s common-law tort claims against medical device manufacturer were preempted by Medical Device Amendments of 1976 because plaintiff conceded that device was designed, manufactured, and distributed in compliance with the terms of its pre-market approval given by the Food and Drug Administration. Walker v. Medtronic, Inc., No. 10-2219. RecordFax No. 12-0125-62.