Maryland Legal News July 2011

From the Maryland Daily Record:

The Maryland Judiciary announced administrative appointments of three circuit court judges yesterday. Two of them are connected to the upcoming retirement of Judge Diane O. Leasure from Howard County Circuit Court in November. Judge Lenore R. Gelfman will become administrative judge for Howard County. Gelfman has served on the bench since 1996 following seven years as a district court judge.

Anne Arundel County Administrative Judge Nancy L. Davis-Loomis, meanwhile, will become administrative judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, which includes Anne Arundel, Carroll and Howard counties. Davis-Loomis has been the top judge in Anne Arundel County since 2007 and has been on the circuit court bench since 2000.

Last but not least, Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. became administrative judge for Washington County late last month. Long has been on the bench for five years and succeeds Judge John H. McDowell.

The NAACP sues Anne Arundel County Schools:

The NAACP has filed a follow-up complaint claiming racial bias in student discipline at Anne Arundel County schools

Letter says African-American students still disciplined disproportionately, seven years after original complaint.

The complaint, filed with the civil rights office of the U.S. Department of Education on Friday, alleges that the number of African-American students referred for discipline and suspended have hardly changed since a similar complaint in 2004. That complaint led to an improvement plan agreed to in 2005 by the NAACP and the school system.

“Six years later, however, there has been no marked improvement in the disparate treatment of African-American students in disciplinary actions, which continues a pattern of denial and limitation of their educational opportunities and thus their future sustainability,” the new complaint reads.

“We want to know why it hasn’t gotten better and what’s being done,” said Jacqueline Boone Allsup, president of the county branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Maryland lawyer Michael Belsky files a sexual abuse lawsuit:

The Baltimore lawyers of two alleged sexual abuse victims on Wednesday filed civil complaints in Wicomico County Circuit Court against [an accused foster father] and Mentor Maryland, a private foster child placement agency.

This writer has it wrong that the future of Maryland dram shop law sits in the hand of a trial court judge. Still, this will be an interesting story to watch. I’m a recent convert to dram shop laws in Maryland for a single reason: dram shop laws save lives.

At Montgomery County Circuit Judge Eric Johnson’s fingertips: whether Maryland will join with most of the country by imposing some liability on bars for the drunken actions of its customers. Johnson is currently drafting a decision on whether or not to allow a civil suit against Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg to move forward to trial, calling into question the status — or lack — of dram shop laws in the state of Maryland.

In the case, the guardians for a 10-year-old, who was killed in a car crash with a drunk driver, are suing the alehouse for $3.25 million for allowing the driver to leave the establishment in an obvious inebriated state. Evidence shows that the driver, Michael Eaton, rang up two tabs at the alehouse tallying up 17 beers and three shots. In April, Judge Johnson said that the restaurant “should have predicted that the man might drive recklessly and kill or seriously injure someone.” Eaton’s lawyers still assert that Maryland has no laws that put Dogfish Head at fault.