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Law digest: 10/15/12

MARYLAND COURT OF APPEALS

Criminal Procedure, Jury communications: Where criminal defendant moved for mistrial after learning that judge’s secretary had ex parte discussion with juror about juror’s grandmother’s death and juror’s ability to continue on the case, circuit court’s denial of defendant’s motion for mistrial was prejudicial error, because under the clear mandate of Rule 4-326(d), pertaining to jury communications, the discussion with the juror should have taken place before the judge and the parties. State v. Harris, No. 22, Sept. Term 2010. RecordFax No. 12-0927-22, 23 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Jury instructions: Where trial court gave different jury instruction than that requested by defendant, defendant’s constitutional rights were not violated because the content of the requested instruction was fairly covered elsewhere in instructions actually given. Carroll v. State, No. 126, Sept. Term 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0927-21, 23 pages.

Estates & Trusts, Trustee release and indemnification: Where trustee requested that beneficiaries execute a release and indemnification agreement prior to distributing trust funds, circuit court correctly denied beneficiaries’ request for judgment declaring the release agreement unlawful because the agreement merely expanded upon an interest the trustee already possessed and was not in its terms so one-sided as to place impermissibly its own interests ahead of those of Petitioners. Hastings v. PNC Bank, NA, No. 109, Sept. Term 2011.RecordFax No. 12-0927-20, 49 pages.

Local Government, Public safety employees: Where a County Charter amendment binds the County Council to arbitration of collective bargaining impasses with public safety workers, portions of an ordinance that blocked funding for the resulting arbitration awards violate the Charter and are therefore invalid. Atkinson v. Anne Arundel County, No. 111, Sept. Term 2011. RecordFax No. 12-0928-20, 44 pages.

COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS

Evidence, Lay testimony: Where defendant’s friend of 45 years gave testimony identifying defendant at trial, Circuit court properly allowed such lay testimony because it was based on specialized knowledge, it was rationally based, and it was relevant. Moreland v. State, No. 1360, Sept. Term 2010. RecordFax No. 12-0926-02, 12 pages.

Evidence, Prior consistent statements: Trial court properly allowed hearsay statements from victim’s peace order application because, during cross-examination, defense counsel opened the door to the admission of such statements by attempting to impeach victim’s credibility with respect to defendant’s conduct, and contents of the peace order application were prior consistent statements that the prosecution was permitted to introduce to rehabilitate the victim. Quansah v. State, No. 2433, Sept. Term 2010. RecordFax No. 12-0926-04, 32 pages.

Insurance Law, Release of liability: Circuit court erred in ruling that car accident victim’s claim for uninsured/underinsured benefits was barred by the release that she executed with tortfeasor’s insurance carrier, even though the release purported to release everyone from any and all claims arising from the accident. Buckley v. Brethren Mutual Insurance Co., No. 1855, Sept. Term 2010. RecordFax No. 12-0926-07, 45 pages.

Torts, Duty to warn: Where plaintiff became ill from asbestos exposure after washing her grandfather’s asbestos-laden work clothes over a period of years, defendant that manufactured asbestos-containing construction material owed duty to warn grandfather that members of his household could become contaminated through his exposure to such material at job site. Georgia-Pacific, LLC v. Farrar, No. 751, Sept. Term 2010. RecordFax No. 12-0926-00, 43 pages.

 

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