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Law digest – 1/9/14


Criminal Procedure, Harmless error: The intermediate appellate court misapplied the harmless error standard in analyzing the trial court’s restriction of defendant’s cross-examination of a State’s witness regarding his expectation of leniency in a violation-of-probation proceeding. Dionas v. State, No. 75, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 13-1210-21, 27 pages.

Professional Responsibility, Intentional deception: A lawyer who attempted to file a defective complaint on her client’s behalf, deceived the client about the litigation’s status, demanded additional retainer payments, and otherwise violated Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct, was disbarred because there were no mitigating factors for her conduct and multiple aggravating factors, including a past disciplinary history, pattern of deceit, intentional deception, and selfish motive. Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Davy, Misc. Docket AG No. 2, Sept. Term, 2011. RecordFax No. 13-1127-22, 41 pages.


Bankruptcy, Foreign insolvency: The bankruptcy court properly recognized that an insolvency administrator’s request for discretionary relief required it to consider the interests of the creditors and other interested entities, including the debtor, and reasonably exercised its discretion in balancing the interests of the licensees against those of the debtor to ensure sufficient protection of the licensees under the foreign debtor’s U.S. patents. Jaffé v. Samsung Elecs. Co., No. 12-1802. RecordFax No. 13-1203-60, 45 pages.

Constitutional Law, Dormant Commerce Clause: County ordinance, which prohibited dumping of waste in landfills not designated by the county, did not violate the Dormant Commerce Clause because it did not discriminate against interstate commerce but treated all private businesses alike; and it effectuated a legitimate local public interest since waste management was a quintessential exercise of local police power. Sandlands C&D LLC v. Horry, No. 13-1134. RecordFax No. 13-1203-61, 20 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Retroactivity of Fair Sentencing Act: The Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the statutory minimum sentence for crack cocaine offenses, was inapplicable to defendant because the Act, which was enacted three years after defendant was sentenced, does not apply retroactively. United States v. Black, No. 13-6228. RecordFax No. 13-1206-60, 18 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Search & seizure: Where defendant, who was surrounded by police officers, responded to one officer’s request for consent to a search by turning around and raising his hands, his act was more of a begrudging submission to a command and lacked the factors that constitute a valid consent. United States v. Robertson, No. 12-4486. RecordFax No. 13-1203-62, 12 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Sentencing enhancement: Defendant’s three prior North Carolina convictions for felony breaking and entering, which bore maximum possible prison sentences of more than one year, qualified as predicate felonies under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act because, even though the state court judge had sentenced defendant to mitigated ranges of 8 to 10 months’ imprisonment, the judge remained free at all times to impose the presumptive prison term of up to 14 months. United States v. Kerr, No. 12-4775. RecordFax No. 13-1203-63, 31 pages.

Labor & Employment, Federal probationary employees: Union’s petition to amend its collective bargaining agreement with the IRS to permit probationary employees to use the CBA grievance procedures was properly denied, because granting the petition would ignore both the statutory and regulatory frameworks put in place by Congress and the executive branch, create a stark circuit split, and overturn nearly 30 years of settled public-employee practice. Nat’l Treasury Emples. Union v. Fed. Labor Rels. Auth., No. 12-2574. RecordFax No. 13-1206-61, 18 pages.