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By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun | January 20, 2012
Maryland's highest court on Friday ruled that the Dobbins Island beach is not a public playground, overturning a lower court's decision that allowed unfettered access to all sandy areas along the shore, even those that are privately owned. The decision means boaters — including those who converge on the Magothy River each year for the "Bumper Bash" — will have to restrict themselves to the sliver of sand between the river and the "mean high water line," which marks the division between private and public property, according to the Maryland Code.
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NEWS
By Leonard Pitts Jr and By Leonard Pitts Jr | October 9, 2014
Our topic du jour: the latest stunning milestone in the march toward gay equality. No, the other stunning milestone. We will get around to what the Supreme Court did (more accurately, declined to do) in a moment. But first: Have you seen the new Cheerios commercial? It broke out online a few days ago, a spot starring these two gay French Canadian men and their adopted daughter, a brown-skinned (African-Canadian?) toddler named Raphaelle. In the three-minute clip, Andre and Jonathan talk about the love at first sight blind date that brought them together and how they thought they could never be dads because they are gay. All the while, Raphaelle is squirming, eating Cheerios, leaning from one father to the other and otherwise committing shameless acts of cuteness.
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NEWS
By Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun | May 17, 2014
How far can state officials go in blocking public access to records showing how Maryland farms are doing at reducing their pollution of the Chesapeake Bay? That's the question the state's top court is weighing after recent oral arguments in Annapolis. It's the latest chapter in a seven-year legal struggle pitting the Waterkeeper Alliance against the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Maryland Farm Bureau. Maryland farmers are required under a 1998 law to report to the state every year on how they are limiting their use of animal manure and chemicals to fertilize their crops.
NEWS
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | May 27, 2014
With $50 million a year in county revenues on the line, the U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday it would hear a challenge to a ruling by Maryland's highest court that some taxes on out-of-state income are collected in violation of the Constitution. A Howard County business owner and his wife challenged the tax laws, arguing that they were being taxed twice on some income. The Maryland Court of Appeals agreed in a ruling last year, saying that the state's power to levy taxes on income earned outside its borders is limited.
NEWS
June 18, 2012
Hooray for Maryland's high court ("Maryland's high court allows Dream Act to stay on ballot," June 13)! I'm sure CASA de Maryland will pull out all the stops to get this defeated, but considering that double the number of needed signatures were obtained, I'm not so sure they'll succeed. And no, my cheering the court's decision doesn't make me racist; it makes me someone who believes in the law. The term "illegal" means that these folks are not entitled to the rights and privileges of our citizens and those who have followed the rules to enter the country through the front door.
NEWS
April 4, 2012
Both Eileen Ambrose ("Oppose health care act at your own risk," April 1) and Dan Rodricks ("Razing the JFX, lowering O's expectations," April 3) miss the issue before the Supreme Court. The issue has nothing to do with the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act concerning health care, insurance, etc. The sole issue is the constitutionality of the mandate that requires each citizen to purchase insurance or pay a penalty thereby forcing each citizen to enter into a private contractual relationship with another.
NEWS
By Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun | May 18, 2012
Maryland's highest court rejected a request to reconsider an April ruling that blocks state law enforcement from collecting DNA samples when a suspect is arrested, court officials said Friday. The decision puts the case on track for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. States and federal courts are split over whether taking a DNA sample before a suspect is convicted violates a person's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Law enforcement agencies announced last month that they would halt the practice for the time being.
NEWS
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | July 9, 2013
The Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld Maryland's long-standing but unusual way of handling negligence cases, which bars plaintiffs who are found to be even 1 percent at fault from winning payouts. Judge John C. Eldridge, writing for the 5-2 majority, said the question whether to change to another model is one for the state legislature. Another model would likely require juries to assign blame and portion out damages accordingly — something Maryland jurors don't do now. "For this Court to change the common law … in the face of the General Assembly's repeated refusal to do so, would be totally inconsistent with the Court's long-standing jurisprudence," Eldridge wrote.
NEWS
By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun | August 30, 2012
Two Howard County residents challenging more than 100 government decisions involving a wide range of issues including sewer system hookups and the construction of highway interchanges and homes have won a hearing in Maryland's highest court. Rejected by federal and lower state court judges, the challenge was granted one more forum last month, as the Maryland Court of Appeals agreed to consider whether the residents have the legal standing to challenge years of decisions by several county agencies.
NEWS
By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun | February 2, 2012
The state would have to hire 284 new public defenders to comply with a recent Court of Appeals ruling requiring lawyers for indigent defendants at thousands of annual bail hearings, according to an affidavit filed Thursday by Maryland Public Defender Paul DeWolfe. "I have determined that the Office is unable to comply with the court's mandate at this time in light of its current resource constraints," DeWolfe wrote in the eight-page, sworn document, filed in the state's highest court.
NEWS
By Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun | May 17, 2014
How far can state officials go in blocking public access to records showing how Maryland farms are doing at reducing their pollution of the Chesapeake Bay? That's the question the state's top court is weighing after recent oral arguments in Annapolis. It's the latest chapter in a seven-year legal struggle pitting the Waterkeeper Alliance against the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Maryland Farm Bureau. Maryland farmers are required under a 1998 law to report to the state every year on how they are limiting their use of animal manure and chemicals to fertilize their crops.
NEWS
By Michael Dresser | May 8, 2014
When Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown brought up a 2003 decision by the Court of Appeals to reprimand Douglas F. Gansler for his conduct as a prosecutor during Wednesday night's Democratic gubernatorial debate, Brown's chief rival in the campaign had a bold answer. Gansler, now attorney general, said he sees the rebuke as "a badge of honor" because he had spoken out against a Montgomery County judge who told an 11-year-old sexual assault victim that she shared the blame because "it takes two to tango.
NEWS
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | February 19, 2014
State judiciary administrators have asked the state's top court to throw out a landmark ruling that poor defendants have a constitutional right to public defenders at their first bail hearings. The request came this week as lawmakers attempt to respond to the decision, discussing sweeping changes to the way the state handles defendants before trial. But in this week's court filing, the attorney general's office questioned whether the legislative proposals would give low-risk defendants a better chance of being quickly freed, arguing the opposite could happen.
NEWS
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | January 23, 2014
Maryland's top court on Thursday left in place a bail system it declared unconstitutional four months ago, deciding instead to hear further arguments on how to ensure that poor people have legal representation at the earliest stage of their cases. But the next hearing on the matter — on technical issues — isn't until March 7, just a month before the state's annual legislative session comes to an end. The decision creates further uncertainty for lawmakers who had hoped to iron out a deal that would avoid the potential $30 million cost of sending public defenders to represent suspects at their first bail hearings.
NEWS
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | January 18, 2014
Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera found herself in an interesting position last week as she testified before lawmakers about how Maryland's courts will meet a constitutional mandate that defendants get a lawyer when their bail is first set. As a member of the state's highest court, Barbera wrote a forceful dissent to a decision that could dramatically change the way the state treats defendants before trial. But as the state's top judge, Barbera also faces the administrative task of carrying out that ruling.
NEWS
By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun | January 8, 2014
Two of Maryland's top officials suggested Wednesday that they don't see a decision by the state's highest court guaranteeing poor people the right to state-appointed counsel at all bail hearings as being the final word on the matter. Appearing on the Marc Steiner radio show before the opening of the General Assembly session, Gov. Martin O'Malley and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller emphasized that the Court of Appeals decision requiring the state to provide public defenders to prisoners when they appear before court commissioners remains before the courts and could be appealed again.
NEWS
By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun | February 26, 2013
Maryland's highest court on Tuesday struck down the bulk of a fraud case against ExxonMobil Corp. stemming from an underground gasoline leak in Baltimore County, reversing most of $1.65 billion in judgments and dealing a stunning blow to hundreds of families. In two opinions on cases arising from the 26,000 gallon spill in Jacksonville in 2006, the Court of Appeals tossed out claims of fraud and ruled that plaintiffs could not collect for emotional distress or the cost of medical care to monitor possible symptoms of illness.
NEWS
By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun | July 20, 2011
Maryland's highest court ruled Wednesday that an actuarial firm is on the hook for about $73 million after making mistakes in valuations for three state retirement programs over more than two decades. The Court of Appeals supported the Board of Contract Appeals' decision that Seattle-based Milliman, Inc., which worked for the state retirement system from 1982 until 2006, is liable for errors in pension calculations for the State Police Retirement System, Law Enforcement Officers' Pension System and Judges' Retirement System.
NEWS
By Yvonne Wenger and Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | July 11, 2013
On the night in 1975 that Merle W. Unger Jr. killed Hagerstown police officer Donald Kline, a black cat named Midnight gave away his hiding spot in a local basement. It was one of many attempts Unger would make to elude police and life in prison. On other occasions, according to court documents, he commandeered a dump truck to break out of prison and hacked through a fence with wire cutters before leading police on a high-speed chase. An account recorded by his hometown historical society claims he even broke out of jail to play bingo - and then broke back in. Unger's most productive attempt at freedom came through an appeal in Maryland's courts.
NEWS
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | July 9, 2013
The Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld Maryland's long-standing but unusual way of handling negligence cases, which bars plaintiffs who are found to be even 1 percent at fault from winning payouts. Judge John C. Eldridge, writing for the 5-2 majority, said the question whether to change to another model is one for the state legislature. Another model would likely require juries to assign blame and portion out damages accordingly — something Maryland jurors don't do now. "For this Court to change the common law … in the face of the General Assembly's repeated refusal to do so, would be totally inconsistent with the Court's long-standing jurisprudence," Eldridge wrote.
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