MARYLAND COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS VISIT

November 8, 2005
Case Summaries

Angelina Sommerman v. Deborah Schubert Titelman, et al.

Summary:

Angelina Sommerman was struck by defendant driver Deborah Titelman as she was crossing the street in a non-crosswalk area. (The crosswalk was fenced off due to construction at the Baltimore County Detention facility.) Sommerman sustained serious injuries to her head and brain as a result of the accident. Sommerman filed suit against Titelman, Gilbane Building Company (the primary contractor responsible for the construction in the area), and Baltimore County.

All defendants filed separate motions for summary judgment in the case with the Circuit Court. Defendants claimed that Sommerman's claimed were barred due to her contributory negligence in causing the accident. Sommerman replied contending that there were several issues of material fact in dispute which precluded summary judgment in the case. Nonetheless, the court granted the defendants' summary judgment motions. Sommerman appeals those decisions.

Issues:
  • Whether the Circuit Court erred in granting the Defendant driver's motion for summary judgment because pedestrian was contributorily negligent in causing the accident.
  • Was application of the doctrine of contributory negligence negated because the Defendant driver had the "last clear chance" to avoid the accident?
  • Whether the Circuit Court erred in granting the summary judgment motions for Baltimore County and Gilbane Building Company.

Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure, Torts

Briefs:

Darris Alaric Ware v. State of Maryland

Summary:

Darris Ware was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death on two counts of first degree murder. Mr. Ware appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. During the trial, the prosecution introduced testimony from an Officer stating that after having waived his Miranda right to remain silent, Mr. Ware did in fact remain silent when questioned about the whereabouts of his gun. The prosecution also cited to Ware's post-Miranda silence during closing arguments as evidence of his guilt.

In a motion for post conviction relief, the Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County found that Mr. Ware received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, because his attorney failed to raise the issue of the trial court allowing the prosecution to introduce evidence of his post-Miranda silence. On October 14, 2004, Mr. Ware was re-sentenced to life in prison without parole. However, the sentencing court did not obtain the most up-to-date presentence investigation (PSI) report for Mr. Ware. Mr. Ware appeals the trial court's allowance of evidence pertaining to his post-Miranda silence and the sentencing court'sfailure to consider the most up-to-date PSI report.

Issues:
  • Whether the trial court erred, under the United States Constitution, and the Maryland Declaration of Rights, by allowing the prosecution to introduce evidence of defendant's post-Miranda silence.
  • Whether the trial court's error in allowing the prosecution to introduce evidence of defendant's post-Miranda silence was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Whether the sentencing court erred in relying upon previous PSI reports, as opposed to a current version for 2004.

Area(s) of Law: Criminal, Evidence, Constitutional

Briefs:

Teresa Lynn Jednorski v. Franklin Square Hospital Center, et al.

Summary:

Teresa Lynn Jednorski files this action on behalf of her minor daughter , Cristy Jednorski, who she claims sustained permanent injuries as a result of excessive traction caused by doctors during her delivery. Testimony at trial established that Cristy's delivery was complicated by shoulder dystocia and that Cristy sustained a brachial plexus injury which resulted in the tearing of several cervical nerves. However, the parties dispute whether plaintiff was able to establish a deviation from the standard of care.

Plaintiff requested that the Court instruct the jury that testimony presented by one of the doctor's at trial, but not testified to at deposition, was sufficient to support that the traction by defendant constituted a deviation from the standard of care. The trial court refused this request, and the jury entered a verdict in favor of defendants. Plaintiff made a motion for new trial and appealed the lower court's decision.

Issues:
  • Whether the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury that testimony presented by one of the doctor's at trial was sufficient to support a finding that the defendant's deviated from the standard of care applicable to the delivery of a child.

Area(s) of Law: Torts/Negligence/Medical Malpractice, Health Care, Civil Procedure, Evidence

Briefs:

County Commissioners of Carroll County v. Dorothy Rowland, et al.

Summary:

Carroll County operates a Waste Water Treatment Plant near the Piney Run tributary which had been designated as a stream for the propagation of trout. The Plant is operated, in part, pursuant to as wastewater discharge permit issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). Based on certain findings, MDE imposed a temperature limitation on Carroll County's wastewater discharge permit. MDE also determined that a mixing zone was not appropriate.

The County as appellant and a group of landowners, as cross-appellants, appealed MDE's decision before the Office of Administrative Hearings arguing that MDE's limitation is more restrictive that contemplated by the regulations. The ALJ held that the temperature limitations created by MDE were appropriate. The County appealed to the Circuit Court, which affirmed. The County appeals again. MDE maintains that landowners (cross-appellants) did not properly preserve the issues below for cross-appeal with their notice for appeal.

Issues:
  • Whether MDE erred in imposing a thermal limitation on the County's wastewater discharge permit.
  • Whether MDE erred in deciding to not grant a "mixing zone."

Area(s) of Law: Environmental, Administrative Law, Civil Procedure

Briefs:

Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services v. Richard Keenan

Summary:

Richard Keenan was terminated from his position as correctional officer lieutenant at Patuxent Institution based on his conduct during an encounter between him and a visitor from a juvenile tour group at the facility. Mr. Keenan responded to a radio call about a juvenile visitor without an identification badge. In the course of his investigation, Mr. Keenan was eventually informed that the juvenile's badge had been located. Instead of releasing the juvenile civilian, Mr. Keenan decided to engage in role-playing: he took a mug shot, handcuffed the juvenile, and locked him in a cell with an inmate. After receiving an apology from the juvenile for not taking the incident seriously, Mr. Keenan released him. After conducting an investigation into the incident, the Department of Safety and Correctional Services terminated Mr. Keenan's employment.

Mr. Keenan appealed the termination of his employment with the Office of Administrative Hearings, which concluded that Mr. Keenan had been rightfully terminated. Mr. Keenan then appealed the Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ) decision with the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. In reversing the decision, the Circuit Court held that the ALJ's decision was not supported by substantial evidence and thus was arbitrary and capricious. DPSCS appeals claiming that the Circuit Court applied the wrong standard of review to the ALJ's decision.

Issues:
  • Whether the Circuit Court applied the correct standard of review to the ALJ's decision.

Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure, Administrative Law, Employment Law

Briefs:


James Luther Humphrey, III v. The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, et al.

Summary:

In 2004, the Maryland National Park and Planning Commission approved a development project for property located Bethesda. James Luther Humphrey challenged this decision before the Montgomery County Planning Board arguing that approval was based on Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 01-08, which violates Article III 33 of the Maryland Constitution. Section 33 provides that laws enacted for the benefit of an individual case are not constitutional. Humphrey's argues that ZTA 01-08 was enacted solely to benefit a specific developer who wanted to create a building for both residential and commercial uses because it would not have otherwise been permitted to do in the previously zoned area for commercial use only.

The Planning Board rejected Mr. Humphrey's arguments. Mr. Humphrey sought review in the Circuit Court and the Circuit Court affirmed. Mr. Humphrey's appeals again.

Issues:
  • Whether Zoning Text Amendment 01-08 violates Article III 33 of the Maryland Constitution which prohibits the enactment of special laws for the benefit of individual cases.

Area(s) of Law: Property/Land Use/Zoning, Maryland Constitution (Art. III, 33)

Briefs:

William Sykes v. State of Maryland

Summary:

Three police officers responded to a call regarding two robbers who had fled an armed robbery in the area. The dispatch call informed the officers that the suspects were two teenaged African American males dressed in black who were about 5'6" in height. The Officers stopped William Sykes and a friend as they were walking out of the complex. Both men were African American, but they did not fit any other aspect of the description. They were both 26 years of age, 6'1" in height, and Sykes was wearing a green shirt. Both men were cooperative with the police and they did not resist a search. In the course of the search, the officers discovered cocaine in Sykes's pocket, and they proceeded to arrest him for possession of cocaine and intent to distribute.

Sykes made a motion to suppress the evidence arguing that the search was not based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause as the Fourth Amendment requires. The Circuit Court disagreed and denied Sykes's motion to suppress the evidence. Sykes appeals.

Issues:
  • Whether the Trial Court erred in denying Appellant's motion to suppress evidence due to an unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment

Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal

Briefs:


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