Articles Posted in Uncategorized

  • Maryland trial judges are near the bottom in a state-by-state salary ranking. Via On the Record. This is a bad thing. I realize the Maryland state budget is a disaster and everything and significant cuts have to be made. But we really need good judges and it is important to do whatever we can to narrow the gap between what judges could make off the bench and what they make on the bench. Clearly, judges will make less than they could in private practice. If they require salaries that approximate their worth in the free market, they will not last as judges (or apply in the first place). The key, however, is to narrow the gap as much as we can to make the position as attractive as possible.
  • Social security disability reform in the works?
  • A Baltimore County auto shop pleads guilty in towing scheme. Seventeen – seventeen!!! – police officers were involved. More from the Baltimore Sun.

The last four opinions from Maryland’s appellate courts:

  • Wasserman v. Kay: commercial case involving Bernie Madoff victims
  • Matthews v. State: I love this line from this case: “What seems at first to be a legal problem frequently turns out to be a linguistic or a semantic problem. On this appeal, we come face to face with the enigma that an illegal sentence is not always an illegal sentence. We do not mean this as doubletalk. “

No, not for you. But North Carolina has already graded the bar exams from the July 2010 seating. Maryland results come out usually in November. Which begs the question: does North Carolina actually read the exam answers? I’m sure they do. Above the Law suggests that it is the small number of applicants to the North Carolina bar: 1,046 applicants for the July bar this year. But that is traditionally around the number of applicants for the Maryland bar. So why does Maryland take three times as long? Fewer examiners? I have no clue.

Today is the first day of the Maryland 2010 July Bar Exam. The format of the exam is unchanged from back in the day: Tuesday is the written portion of the exam – 10 essays and an MPT; tomorrow is the 200 multiple questions multi-state.

For Maryland’s February exam, 67.6% passed. You can expect the pass rate to be much higher for this exam. Last July, 81% of the applicants passed the Maryland bar.

Governor O’Malley announced Friday the appointment of the Honorable Michele D. Hotten to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. The Governor also announced the appointment of eight more judges:

  • Master Yolanda A. Tanner (Baltimore City Circuit Court) (Juvenile Court Master in Baltimore)
  • Marsha L. Russell (Baltimore County District Court) (prosecutor in the Baltimore County)

The 2011 U.S. News Law School Rankings have been leaked. I love how they call them 2011 rankings, these guys are worse than the car manufacturers. Anyway, the University of Maryland law school is 48th this year. I only saw the top 50 on an Above the Law report, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the University of Baltimore Law School fared this year.

Little Ash Wednesday controversy in Iowa that is a very big deal to some: After lunch, while prosecuting an attempted murder case, the prosecutor went to Ash Wednesday mass and returned with ash on his forehead.

For mainstream Catholics, this is one of the few ways we have to publicly celebrate our faith. Many faiths of the world have ways you can, for lack of a better phrase, wear your religion on your sleeve at trial. Jewish lawyers have yarmulkes, female Muslim lawyers have headscarves, some Sikh attorneys have turbans, etc. Would a judge ever ask any of these people to remove their religious garb? Of course not. Yet, in this case, the judge asked the prosecutor to remove his ashes. The prosecutor removed the ashes, and the trial continued.

Do I think this was unfair? Yes. But the judge was in a no-win situation. It would also be unfair for the state of Iowa to piggyback off of the prosecutor’s show of piety because religious faith influences jurors. (If you have any doubt about this, read the section on religion in David Ball and Don Keenan’s book Damages.) So, on balance, I think the judge did the right thing and picked the integrity of a serious criminal trial over the prosecutor’s expression of faith. Still, I don’t like it.