Blood v. Stoneridge at Fountain Green Homeowners is an interesting case not only because the opinion begins with an Elton John verse from “Don’t Let the Sun Come Down on Me.”

Facts of Blood v. Stoneridge

In Blood, two Harford County (Bel Air) homeowners installed solar panels on their roof. Big solar fans apparently, they installed fifteen solar panels on the front roof and thirty-three solar panels on the rear roof.

This post was originally written in 2008.  Goodness, things have changed in 2019, and they have also stayed very much the same in spite of a thriving economy.

Let’s see where we are now with attorney salaries and, specifically, first-year starting salaries for new lawyers in the Baltimore area. Keep in mind so much of this is based on conjecture and rumor so you have to take it all with a few ounces of salt.baltimore-3-2019-300x258

  • Robert Half tells us that the average starting salary nationwide is $68,000.  Baltimore gets a 3% location bump.  So, roughly, this tells us that the average starting salary in Baltimore in 2018 was approximately $70,040.  

I frequently get an email that is some version of this one on the diminished value of cars after a crash:

Hello Professor Miller,

It’s [name withheld], and I took Sports Law from you (really learned a lot by the way). Anyway, the reason, for my [voicemail], and why I’m writing is because I have a friend who has a problem. He purchased what I believed was an SUV, brand new in 2006. A few months ago it was stolen and vandalized. The police were eventually able to recover it, but it was totaled. According to my friend the blue book values the car at a certain amount, but the insurance company is not willing to pay him anything near the blue book value of the car. The more time passes the more the value decreases. My friend would like to recover the fair value of his vehicle, and would like to know what his recovery rights are. I am sure you are incredibly busy, but my friend also wanted me to refer him to someone I trusted and was an expert in insurance law.

There is an interested federal court opinion that came out this month on a street artist/violinist who was barred by a police officer from playing the Ocean City boardwalk. Faced with the threat of

arrest, three months in jail and a $500 fine, plaintiff waited a year and filed a lawsuit.

Plaintiff filed a motion for injunctive relief, asking the court order Ocean City not to enforce a 30-foot audibility restriction on the O.C. boardwalk.

Sometimes, I think we should be harder on lawyers who have bad intent. But this is a little over the top for me.

In Attorney Grievance Commission v. Kepple, a lawyer was given an indefinite suspension of at least 30 days because 13 years ago she hid her real state of residence so she could get in-state tuition. Basically, she pretended she lived in West Virginia to get in-state tuition.

How did she get caught? Her spiteful ex-husband ratted her out.

After almost six years, the Maryland Court of Appeals shuts down a public interest’s group attempt to block the creation of a dairy farm creamery. The court found that the third party group did not have standing because the easement they sought to enforce did not include them. A long fight for someone who, as it turned out, had no skin in the game.

Here is what happened. Defendants own an organic dairy farm that is located on 199 acres in the Long Green Valley area of Baltimore County. The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) is a statutorily created organization that buys easements on farm owner’s lands, making them promise that that they will only use it for farming purposes. Competition to get into the program is fierce, but in 1997, Bellevale sold a MALPF easement to MALPF for $796,500.

In 2007, the defendant proposed to build a 10,000 square foot creamery operation on the land, and received approval from the MALPF because it created and stored milk, cheese, and other dairy products. The terms were compliant with MALPF’s statutory and organizational goals. However, another land preservation organization, the Long Green Valley Association (LGVA), took issue with the creamery, and filed several complaints and emergency hearings with the Deputy Zoning Commissioner for Baltimore County. All of the bureaucratic avenues ultimately declared that the creamery counted as a “farm” and was being created for “farming purposes.” Finally, the LGVA filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Baltimore County.

The Supreme Court today shot down an absolutely ridiculous Arizona law that made voters provide proof they were U.S. citizens when they vote. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the 7-2 opinion. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.

The National Voter Registration Act forbids states to demand that an applicant submit additional information beyond that required by the Federal Form, the court found. The court’s ruling does not stop states from denying registration based on information in their possession establishing the applicant’s ineligibility. It just means they can’t make you show evidence when you walk up to register.

The Alito’s dissent’s point is that the statute is ambiguous and states should be able to decide to approach it however they like. Justice Thomas’ point was that the statute requires that you follow a form but the state can require whatever additional information it wants when voters register.

The subject of DNA testing has been increasingly prevalent in Maryland courtrooms. In the past few months, a Maryland case (Maryland v. King) was argued in the Supreme Court on whether an arrested person’s DNA could be legally taken. No matter one’s view on its collection, DNA sometimes plays a large role in determining who did or did not do something. However, they recently decided that Brown v. Maryland shows an example of how allegedly exonerating DNA results that might not even matter.

Brown features a particularly violent assault and rape of a young woman. She was abducted, beaten, handcuffed, and tortured– among other things that the court understated as being “not pretty.” I think the word “unimaginable” works.

Anyway, Brown was found guilty and convicted to eighty-five years in prison. Now he attempted to utilize a new Maryland statute that granted a new trial if post-conviction DNA was (1) favorable to the petitioner and there was (2) a substantial possibility…that the petitioner would not have been convicted if the results were known at trial.

Four former and current black police officers in Annapolis have filed suit in federal court against the city. The officers claiming they were discriminated against because they are black and, as a result, were turned down for promotions and opportunities to advance.

These kinds of cases are so hard to prove even when they are true. Two of the officers argue disparate treatment which means while the City of Annapolis might be using facially neutral employment practices, they have had a unjustified adverse impact on these black officers. In other words, maybe it was not intentional discrimination but it is.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the city has 26 black officers on its 117-member force which sounds reasonable. But that does not mean there was not discrimination. You just can’t read a story like this and know what happened.