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Law digest – 3/12/12

MARYLAND COURT OF APPEALS

Family Law: Attorneys’ fees: The gratuitous cost of pro bono legal services, provided to a party in a custody modification proceeding, may not be considered in awarding attorneys’ fees to the other party unless the circuit court first determines that both sides had substantial justification for bringing or defending the action. Davis v. Petito, No. 30, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0227-20.

Professional Responsibility, Disbarment: Disbarment was the appropriate sanction for an attorney who knowingly made false statements to Bar Counsel and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud and deceit. Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Payer, Misc. Docket AG No. 8, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0222-23.

Tax Law, Statute of limitations on partnership refund claim: The one-year statute of limitations for plaintiff to file her Maryland tax refund claim after a federal audit of a partnership of which she was a limited partner began to run on the date that the IRS issued its report identifying the adjustments to her personal tax liability. King v. Comptroller of the Treasury, No. 32, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0224-20.

COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS

Real Property, Presumption of aggrievement: As adjacent property owners, plaintiffs were considered prima facie aggrieved by defendant’s proposed construction and operation of a creamery, in violation of an agricultural preservation easement held by Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation, and, therefore, defendants had the burden of rebutting the presumption of aggrievement. Long Green Valley Assoc. v. Bellevale Farms, Inc., No. 0228, September Term, 2009. RecordFax No. 12-0214-03.

U.S. 4TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

Immigration Law, Moral character: Even though resident’s conviction for distribution of cocaine in a drug-free zone was “set aside” pursuant to D.C. Youth Rehabilitation Act following resident’s successful completion of his probationary period, Citizenship and Immigration Services properly denied resident’s naturalization application based on prior conviction, because conviction was set aside on rehabilitative grounds having nothing to do with merits of underlying criminal judgment, and resident therefore failed to satisfy burden of proving that he was a person of “good moral character.” Phan v. Holder, No. 10-1794. RecordFax No. 12-0201-60.

Immigration Law, Moral turpitude: Alien who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor of contributing to delinquency of a minor, under state statute that encompassed crimes not involving moral turpitude, was not subject to removal under federal statute providing for removal of an alien convicted of crime involving moral turpitude, even though police report indicated that he had engaged in consensual sexual intercourse with a minor. Prudencio v. Holder, No. 10-2382. RecordFax No. 12-0130-60.

Torts, Privacy Protection Act: Police had probable cause to believe a photojournalist had conspired with vandals or aided and abetted their offenses; therefore, a subsequent search of her home pursuant to a valid search warrant did not violate Fourth Amendment, and the U.S. was entitled to summary judgment in photojournalist’s action for alleged violations of Privacy Protection Act under the Act’s “suspect exception.” Sennett v. United States, No. 11-1421. RecordFax No. 12-0130-61.