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By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun | April 23, 2014
The drama over Baltimore's dysfunctional phone system began its next act Wednesday, with the city authorizing a private attorney to defend Comptroller Joan M. Pratt amid an ethics investigation — and Pratt leveling more accusations that the Rawlings-Blake administration is wasting taxpayer dollars through inaction. The Board of Estimates approved $2,000 for Pratt to hire an attorney as the city's ethics board investigates whether she should have accepted free legal work from Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos' law firm in 2012, when she sued the administration alleging illegal practices.
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NEWS
By Meredith Cohn, The Baltimore Sun | April 6, 2014
Herbert "Hunky" Matz, a Baltimore lawyer known for his warmth and wit, died Wednesday in his sleep. He turned 100 years old in January. Relatives say his upbeat demeanor won him friends and admirers and surely contributed to his longevity. They say he was proud to be a Baltimore man, having been born and raised near Patterson Park along with nine siblings. He graduated from Baltimore City College, where he was captain of the basketball team and later inducted into the Hall of Fame and invited to be graduation speaker.
NEWS
By Michael Millemann | April 5, 2014
Studies document the extraordinary unmet legal needs of low and middle-income people. To appreciate this, visit Baltimore City's Rent Court, where hundreds of tenants, including families with children, face eviction and homelessness. Or watch a docket of debt-collection cases in district court, where many defendants face financial ruin; or custody cases in a circuit court, where distraught parents fight for their children. The overwhelming majority of these litigants are representing themselves, often against lawyers.
NEWS
By Timothy B. Wheeler and Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun | April 4, 2014
With lawmakers still far apart on how to overhaul Maryland's bail system, legislative leaders and the O'Malley administration have cobbled together a short-term fix that involves an executive order and recruiting private attorneys for little or no pay to represent poor defendants. At the direction of legislative leaders, a joint House and Senate committee has set aside $10 million in the state budget to address a ruling by Maryland's highest court that the current bail system is unconstitutional because it fails to provide lawyers early enough in the process.
NEWS
By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun | April 1, 2014
A South River High School senior has been barred from having a firearm for a year, but avoided a criminal conviction Tuesday for having an unloaded shotgun in his car on the school parking lot in February, his lawyer said. Patrick Bryan Mitchell, 18, whose automatic expulsion from the school in Edgewater was protested by students and parents, made no statements before Anne Arundel County District Judge Thomas J. Pryal, who imposed a year's unsupervised probation during which the teenager cannot have a firearm.
NEWS
By Zachary D. Spilman | March 31, 2014
Two high profile military sexual assault cases ended with big losses for the prosecution last month. At Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair pleaded guilty to reduced charges and received a light sentence of a written reprimand and a fine. At the Naval Academy in Maryland, Midshipman Joshua Tate was found not guilty of sexually assaulting an intoxicated female classmate. General Sinclair engaged in a lengthy affair with a subordinate who accused him of threatening her and forcing her to engage in sex acts, but who herself faced the possibility of disciplinary action for their inappropriate relationship.
NEWS
By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun | March 28, 2014
Gayle Hafner, a senior staff attorney of the Maryland Disability Law Center and a co-founder of Medicaid Matters Maryland who was an outspoken advocate for those with disabilities, died March 22 of a heart attack during an operation at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. The longtime Towson resident was 60. "A premier civil rights attorney, Ms. Hafner sounded a voice for children in foster care and people with disabilities," said Lauren Young, director of litigation for the Maryland Disability Law Center.
NEWS
By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun | March 11, 2014
The Court of Appeals has extended the deadline by which the state must make sure criminal defendants have lawyers by their side during bail hearings before District Court commissioners. Currently, the state provides attorneys only at hearings before judges. But the Court of Appeals ruled in September that they must be provided earlier in the process, at the initial hearings before the commissioners. State officials say that would cost $30 million a year — money they say they don't have.
NEWS
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | March 7, 2014
The Court of Appeals pushed back a deadline Friday for authorities in Baltimore to expand criminal defendants' access to lawyers, but one of the state's top judges said she does not expect to alter the court's underlying ruling that suspects have a right to counsel at all bail hearings. The ruling last year, which has set off a wide-ranging debate on how to handle the 175,000 or so people arrested in Maryland each year, could take effect as soon as Tuesday. District Court administrators — the defendants in the case — as well as the governor and Senate president had hoped the hearing would be a chance to reverse the ruling, which is vexing policymakers as they try to figure out a way to comply.
NEWS
March 6, 2014
On March 5, 1770, a group of British soldiers fired into an unruly crowd, killing five American civilians in an incident known as the Boston Massacre. Facing murder charges and potentially the death penalty, the soldiers had difficulty finding someone to defend them in court. John Adams agreed to represent them not because he sympathized with their circumstances but because he believed that they had a right to a legal defense. He succeeded, too, as six of the soldiers were acquitted and two convicted only of manslaughter.
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