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Recent Blog Posts

No LWOP For Non Homicidal Juveniles

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 04:35PM Graham v. Florida (08-7621) The Supreme Court of the United States held today that a sentence of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP), for a juvenile defendant, violates the Eight Amendment as a cruel and unusual punishment.  Justice Kennedy noted in the last portion of the Court’s opinion Read More

Fourth Circuit Affirms Convictions For Wire Fraud And District Court’s Calculation of Loss

Monday, February 8, 2010 at 02:45PM Last week, the Fourth Circuit issued an opinion in United States v. Jiten Mehta.  The opinion is available here. The defendant was charged with a variety of crimes relating to the preparation of false tax returns, including wire fraud.  At trial, the government presented evidence that the defendant was Read More

Trial Courts Denial Of A Motion For Mistrial Constituted Abuse of Discretion

Monday, January 4, 2010 at 05:51PM “We conclude that the case before us presents one of those rare instances in which the denial of the motion for mistrial constituted an abuse of discretion.” In an opinion filed last week, the Court of Special Appeals vacated a defendant’s conviction for retaliation against a witness and remanded Read More

Sentence Vacated Under Plain Error Standard Government Breached Plea Agreement

Friday, December 4, 2009 at 08:33AM United States v. Dawson, No. 08-4000 (4th Cir. Dec. 3, 2009).  PDF available here. Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit issued an opinion vacating a defendant’s sentence because, under a plain error standard of review, the government breached its plea agreement with the defendant. The facts: the defendant’s plea agreement stated Read More

Jurors Grandmother Dies Juror Tells Chambers COSA Reverses

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 01:00PM In an opinion filed yesterday, the Court of Special Appeals reversed a defendant’s murder conviction and remanded the case for a new trial.  At the heart of the court’s decision was a concern about ex parte communications that occur between judges, chambers staff, and jurors.  The opinion in Harris Read More

Voir Dire Is Not Foolproof But Gives Meaning To Constitutional Rights

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at 11:59AM Edwin Wright v. State of Maryland, No. 6, September Term, 2009. The opinion is available here (pdf). While “voir dire is not a foolproof process,” . . . “it is better that we should use an overabundance of caution, and assume that the judicial system as a whole is Read More

Fourth Circuit Scrutinizes ACCA Predicate and Holds in Favor of Defendant

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at 07:17PM Today, the Fourth Circuit held in favor of a defendant in a case involving whether an offense can be deemed an ACCA predicate. The opinion in United States v. Harcum, No. 07-4890 (Decided November 17, 2009) is available here. First, some background on ACCA: The Armed Career Criminal Act Read More

Court of Appeals of Maryland Finds No Bad Faith, Reverses Circuit Court’s Dismissal of Second Indictment

Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 04:57PM Posted by Brennan Sullivan and McKenna State v. Huntley, Record No. 157 (Court of Appeals of Maryland, Sept. Term, 2008) In an opinion filed November 12, 2009, the Court of Appeals of Maryland held that Mr. Huntley’s right to be tried within 180 days (pursuant to Md. Rule 4-271 Read More

For now at least, the Court of Special Appeals finds no Second Amendment protection against Maryland’s firearm regulations

  Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 11:41AM Williams v. State of Maryland, Record No. 01999, (Court of Special Appeals, Sept. Term, 2008) In an opinion filed October 30, 2009, the Court of Special Appeals held that – for now at least – Maryland’s prohibition on transportation of a handgun (Md. Crim. Law Code Ann. § Read More

Greenbelt Court Interprets Melendez Diaz

  Friday, October 2, 2009 at 07:25PM United States of America v. Clark Darden, Case No. 09-602M The opinion is available here (pdf). Last week, Judge DiGirolamo signed an opinion interpreting the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 129 S. Ct. 2537 (2009).  In Melendez-Diaz, the Court held that state forensic analysts’ “certificates Read More