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NEWS
July 20, 1999
FOR the first quarter-century of its existence, Maryland's District Court system and Robert F. Sweeney were synonymous. He gave birth to it, nurtured it and watched it grow into a highly competent and efficient judiciary handling 2.4 million cases annually with 99 judges, 1,300 employees, 35 courthouses and a budget of $90 million.It is a professional and well-run operation, thanks to Mr. Sweeney, who was chief judge of the District Court from its inception in 1971 until his retirement in 1996.
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NEWS
By Ian Duncan and Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun | July 3, 2013
The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Wednesday a lower court ruling striking down a Baltimore ordinance that required pregnancy clinics to post signs stating if they do not provide abortions. Judge Robert B. King wrote in a majority opinion that the lower court was too hasty in overturning the city law but did not decide on the case's merits. The city has agreed to keep the law on hold while the lower court takes it up again. "The … decision was laden with error, in that the court denied the defendants essential discovery and otherwise disregarded basic rules of civil procedure," King wrote.
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NEWS
By Lyle Denniston and Lyle Denniston,SUN NATIONAL STAFF | January 19, 2000
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court raised the prospect yesterday that women who work for state government agencies, colleges and universities may no longer be allowed to use a federal law to try to gain equal pay. The justices ordered two federal appeals courts to reconsider rulings that had permitted such claims under the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The lower courts must now weigh whether Congress had authority to apply the law to state governments in cases where differences in pay are based on a state worker's sex. In recent years, the court has moved to protect state governments from being sued to carry out laws passed by Congress.
NEWS
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun | March 21, 2013
A federal appeals court has upheld Maryland's handgun permitting law, reversing a lower court decision by concluding that the state can constitutionally require an applicant to show “good and substantial reason” that he or she needs a concealed-carry license. Fourth Circuit Judge Robert King, writing for the three-judge panel, said the state had shown that the requirement “is reasonably adapted” to its “significant interests in protecting public safety and preventing crime.” Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler cheered the ruling Thursday, saying the state is “a safer place today because of its handgun conceal-and-carry permit laws.” “The idea is to make sure guns are in the hands of responsible people, and not just anybody who wants to tote a gun in public,” Gansler said.
NEWS
By Lyle Denniston and Lyle Denniston,Washington Bureau | June 15, 1993
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court set the stage yesterday for a major ruling on abortion clinics' long campaign to defend themselves against violent blockades by using the heavy artillery of a federal anti-rackets law.Taking the suggestion of women's rights groups with support of the Clinton administration, the court agreed to decide whether the 1970 anti-racketeering law aimed at organized crime -- providing tripled damage verdicts -- applies to attempts by...
NEWS
By Andrea F. Siegel and Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF | December 4, 2001
In a case that could set a national precedent, lawyers for a Baltimore mother will ask the state's highest court today to rule that a gun maker can be held liable for the accidental death of a toddler who shot himself with a handgun that lacked a childproof lock. Lawyers for Melissa M. Halliday claim that the gun was defective and without a trigger lock, an argument that failed in two lower courts. A divided Court of Special Appeals upheld a Baltimore judge's decision to dismiss the suit.
NEWS
By Lyle Denniston and Lyle Denniston,SUN NATIONAL STAFF | November 25, 2000
WASHINGTON - In a stunning, history-shaping order, the U.S. Supreme Court assigned itself a potentially decisive role in settling the nation's presidential election as it agreed yesterday to rule on an appeal by Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Merely by taking on the case, when almost no one - including Bush's lawyers - expected it to do so, the court presented Vice President Al Gore with a serious but perhaps not decisive setback. The court laid out a schedule that leads to a 90-minute hearing Friday morning.
NEWS
By Lyle Denniston and Lyle Denniston,SUN NATIONAL STAFF | September 24, 1996
WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration moved to shore up its "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military by arguing yesterday that the policy can withstand a new Supreme Court ruling that protects homosexuals' rights.In legal papers filed in the Supreme Court, the administration's lawyers said the justices should pass up the first case challenging the constitutionality of the policy.While conceding that its restriction on gays in uniform does raise an important constitutional issue, those lawyers said the court should await further review by lower courts before getting involved.
NEWS
By Jan C. Greenburg and Jan C. Greenburg,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | February 26, 2003
WASHINGTON - Admonishing lower courts not to be in such a hurry to close the door on death row appeals, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a convicted killer in Texas was entitled to pursue his claim that prosecutors illegally excluded African-Americans from the jury in his 1986 murder trial. The 8-1 decision revives the prospects of death row inmate Thomas Miller-El, who was one day from execution last spring when the Supreme Court agreed to hear his case. Miller-El said prosecutors violated his constitutional rights when they struck 10 of 11 African-Americans from his jury pool.
NEWS
By Lyle Denniston and Lyle Denniston,SUN NATIONAL STAFF | December 13, 1997
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court, addressing a federal law that adds lengthy prison time for carrying a gun during a drug crime, agreed yesterday to spell out what "carrying" means.Accepting two cases for review, involving marijuana dealing in Louisiana and cocaine sales in New York, the court stepped in to resolve a widening conflict among lower courts over the meaning of the law.The law at issue makes it a separate crime to "use or carry" a gun while committing specified crimes, including drug trafficking.
NEWS
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun | March 20, 2013
Maryland's second-highest court upheld the constitutionality of Baltimore's gun offender registry, a signature effort to curb gun violence that a city judge had called into question two years ago. The registry requires people convicted of gun crimes to provide addresses and other information to the city every six months for three years, and was modeled after a similar program in New York City. Circuit Judge Alfred Nance ruled in 2011 that the city's law was "unconstitutionally vague and awfully broad," among other concerns.
NEWS
By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun | February 1, 2013
A Middle River family who alleges a Baltimore County officer used excessive force with a Taser has a second chance in court after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday partially reversed an earlier decision to throw out their federal suit. Ryan Meyers' family sued after the 40-year-old died when Baltimore County police responded to his home for a domestic violence call in 2007. Three officers entered the home and one tasered Meyers 10 times because police said he refused to listen to the officers and drop a baseball bat. But Meyers' family said he fell to the ground and was no longer resisting arrest when the officer continued to taser him unnecessarily.
NEWS
By Ian Duncan and Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun | January 25, 2013
John Merzbacher, a former South Baltimore parochial school teacher convicted of raping a student, will remain in prison after the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a decision Friday that could have set him free. In an emotional victory for the former students named in civil lawsuits and identified by prosecutors as his victims, the court ruled that Merzbacher is not entitled to a plea deal that his lawyers argued should have been offered to him nearly 20 years ago. "This is a man who held a loaded gun to my head at ages 11 and 12 and 13 and threatened to kill me if I ever told," said Elizabeth Ann Murphy, a former student raped by Merzbacher in the 1970s at Catholic Community Middle School.
NEWS
By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun | November 30, 2011
Opponents of a farmer's creamery business in northern Baltimore County have the right to pursue their fight against the operation before a circuit judge, the state's second highest court ruled on Wednesday. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed a Circuit Court opinion, ruling that the Long Green Valley Association and John and Susan Yoder have legal standing to press their case against the dairy and meat business run by Robert E. Prigel and his family at their 199-acre farm on Long Green Road.
NEWS
By Nicole Fuller, The Baltimore Sun | July 21, 2010
Anne Arundel County voters will decide in November whether to allow Maryland's most lucrative slots casino to be built at Arundel Mills mall, after the state's highest court ruled Tuesday that a referendum challenging zoning for the project should be placed on the ballot. Supporters and opponents likely will mount vigorous campaigns leading up to the fall election, and observers say higher turnout in Anne Arundel could have an impact on the races for governor and county executive. Questions over the 4,750-machine casino, proposed by the Baltimore-based Cordish Cos., extend the uncertainty over Maryland's struggling slots program.
NEWS
By Paul West, The Baltimore Sun | May 3, 2010
Lost in the gathering debate over President Barack Obama's next Supreme Court pick, a profound shift in the federal judiciary is taking place below the high court. Working methodically, and drawing sporadic fire from left and right, Obama is gradually reshaping the U.S. courts. Already, he's tipped the balance of two appellate circuits to Democratic-appointed majorities, with a third about to flip. He also is choosing a larger proportion of women and minorities for lifetime federal judgeships than other presidents.
BUSINESS
By Lyle Denniston and Lyle Denniston,SUN NATIONAL STAFF | November 7, 2000
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court took on a $154 million investment dispute yesterday that could clarify when federal securities fraud law applies to options to buy stock. At issue in a case that began in Hong Kong is an investor's right to sue for damages for fraud when a company grants an option to buy into a planned joint venture, but then scuttles the deal. A federal appeals court ruled in April that a contract to sell stock through an option amounts to the sale of a security when the option is given in exchange for help on a joint project.
BUSINESS
By Lyle Denniston and Lyle Denniston,SUN NATIONAL STAFF | October 31, 2000
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court refused yesterday to review the first of a rising number of lawsuits that seek to scuttle the 1998 deal that settled lawsuits by 46 states - including Maryland - against the tobacco companies. Without comment, the court turned aside an appeal by two Oklahoma smokers that was the first effort to persuade the justices to rule on legal and constitutional challenges to the $206 billion settlement. Though the court's action did not amount to a ruling on the challenges themselves, the order left intact a lower-court decision that the tobacco industry had a constitutional right to reach the settlement with the states.
NEWS
By Brent Jones and Brent Jones,brent.jones@baltsun.com | August 27, 2008
The state's highest court ordered a lower court yesterday to reconsider its decision in a judgment that allowed the former wife of Tom Clancy to control a series of books marketed under the Baltimore-born author's name. In 2005, a Calvert County Circuit Court judge gave Wanda T. King, formerly Wanda Clancy, control of a series of a dozen books called Tom Clancy's Op-Center. The books, which revolve around a fictional U.S. anti-terrorist agency, were written in Clancy's style but penned by others.
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