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Law digest: 12/10/14


Criminal Procedure, DNA evidence: Under the plain meaning of a Maryland Public Safety statute providing that a match between a DNA evidence sample and a data base entry may be used only as probable cause and is not admissible at trial unless confirmed by additional testing, a criminal defendant may not introduce evidence of a DNA “match” to prove the identity of another individual without establishing additional confirmatory testing, and this restriction does not violate the defendants’ constitutional right to present a fair defense. Allen v. State, No. 16; Diggs v. State, No. 17, Sept. Term, 2014 (filed Nov. 26, 2014). RecordFax No. 14-1126-20, 39 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Scientific identification evidence: Circuit court properly dismissed a post-conviction petition for DNA testing of scientific identification evidence in the State’s possession upon a prima facie showing by the State that it no longer possessed the T-shirt and cigarette package sought by the defendant and that the “sex crimes kit” sought by the defendant, even had it been found, included only blood drawn from the victim at the time of the offense. Johnson v. State, No. 102, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-1121-22, 15 pages.

Professional Responsibility, Disciplinary proceedings: Because hearing judge reasonably determined that evidence did not support allegations that attorney’s personal involvement with an allegedly vulnerable client negatively impacted his representation of the client, hearing judge properly concluded that attorney did not violate the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct and the disciplinary charges against the attorney were dismissed. Attorney Grievance Commission v. Merkle, Misc. Docket AG No. 17, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-1124-20, 37 pages.

Torts, Medical malpractice immunity: Under Maryland’s involuntary admission immunity statutes, health care providers are immune from liability both when they evaluate and involuntarily admit an individual and when they evaluate and decide not to involuntarily admit an individual. Williams v. Peninsula Regional Medical Center, No. 18, Sept. Term, 2014. RecordFax No. 14-1121-21, 17 pages.


Criminal Procedure, Coram nobis relief: Defendant’s coram nobis petition was barred by laches because defendant unreasonably failed to seek coram nobis relief for nine years after the imposition of his sentence, and this unreasonable delay severely prejudiced the State’s ability to retry the defendant, since the arresting officer, having made thousands of such arrests in the interim, no longer had any recollection of the crime. State v. Jones, No. 2425, Sept. Term, 2012. RecordFax No. 14-1125-00, 20 pages.

Torts, Local Government Tort Claims Act: In plaintiff’s lawsuit against city police department based on the alleged negligence and other misconduct of a police officer, the police officer did not waive the damages cap of $200,000 imposed by the Local Government Tort Claims Act because a government employee cannot waive the statutory damages cap, and the circuit court judgment reducing the jury’s award to the plaintiff of over $3 million to $200,000 was affirmed. Holloway-Johnson v. Beall, No. 2238, Sept. Term, 2013. RecordFax No. 14-1125-01, 43 pages.