SCHEDULE OF ORAL ARGUMENTS
September Term, 2019
Monday, January 6, 2020:
No. 33 Crystal Linton, et al. v. Consumer Protection Division
Issues – Commercial Law – 1) May class members in a class action lawsuit lawfully release and assign to others their right to receive money or property sought for their benefit by Respondents or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“the CFPB”) through those agencies’ separate enforcement actions under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act or the Consumer Financial Protection Act? 2) Did CSA err in reversing the trial court’s final approval order and holding that class members’ right to receive money or property in the class action was not purely personal and private to those members, such that they could not release and assign those rights to others? 3) Did the trial court abuse its discretion in approving the class action settlement? 4) As a matter of first impression, did a court-approved settlement agreement, in which class members voluntarily forewent and assigned away any benefit Respondent may someday obtain on the restitution claim it asserted in order to obtain a guaranteed financial recovery, interfere with Respondent’s public enforcement authority when Respondent’s restitution theories, if successful and recoverable, would exclusively benefit the class members? 5) Does the equitable one satisfaction rule, as discussed in the Court’s recent opinion in Michele Gallagher v. Mercy Medical Center, Inc., 463 Md. 615, 207 A.3d 634 (2019), preclude class members from receiving both financial restitution and common law damages? 6) In certifying and approving a class action settlement that compensates class members in an amount equivalent to only about 4% of the financial harm they suffered as a result of their transactions with Access Funding, a Petitioner, did the trial court err in declining to require submission of evidence to support its factual findings, including its findings that defendants-appellees are insolvent? 7) In approving a class settlement that purports to “release” Access Funding’s principals, not only from any liability to class members but also from liability to two government agencies with claims pending against them, did the trial court err in holding that it had “no basis” to consider whether the “released” principals have financial resources to satisfy a judgment on, or contribute to a settlement of, the claims from which they were “released”? 8) Did the trial court abuse its discretion in approving, through a judicial opinion drafted for it by counsel, a class settlement in which (a) absent class members, more than 70% victims of lead poisoning, receive compensation equivalent to only four cents for each dollar of financial harm they suffered, (b) the amount of the settlement fund is less than available insurance proceeds and the defendants would not make any direct contribution to the settlement fund, and (c) Access Funding would purportedly be “released” from making any restitution through pending lawsuits filed by Respondents and the CFPB? 9) Did the trial court err in granting approval to a private class settlement that requires class members to transfer back to Access Funding any payment rights that are restored to them, without compliance with Maryland’s structured settlement transfer law? 10) Did the trial court abuse its discretion in awarding attorneys’ fees to class counsel, where counsel sought no discovery and engaged in no litigation adverse to Access Funding after filing plaintiffs’ complaint; admitted that their class claims, had they been adjudicated, likely would have been barred by the defendants’ unanswered petitions to compel arbitration; recovered only $750,000 of the $17.7 million in total financial harm incurred by class members; and obtained this “recovery” principally by “settling” the separate, pending claims of Respondent and the CFPB? 11) Did the trial court abuse its discretion in approving a settlement notice that used complex legal jargon and failed to inform absent class members of the implication of the settlement?
Attorneys for Petitioner: Charles Sims and Raymond L. Marshall
Attorney for Respondent: Joshua N. Auerbach
AG No. 53 (2018 T.) Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Charles Darrow Yates
Attorney for Petitioner: Michael W. Blow, Jr.
Attorney for Respondent: Irwin R. Kramer
No. 39 Larry Daniel Bratt v. State of Maryland
Issues – Criminal Procedure – 1) Does the failure of a sentencing judge to award a defendant mandatory credit against the sentence for time served in custody prior to trial render the sentence illegal and subject to correction under Maryland Rule 4-345(a)? 2) What is the proper remedy to correct the illegality when a sentence does not reflect the proper credit? 3) Is the claim that a sentencing court failed to comply with Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 6-218(e) properly raised in a Rule 4-345(a) motion when the court’s alleged failure to do so is a procedural flaw, i.e., not the result of a determination by the court that the defendant is not entitled to any or only partial credit for time that the defendant spent in pre-sentencing detention? 4) Where the defendant alleges that the sentencing court failed to comply with Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 6-218, and there is no dispute that the defendant is entitled to the credit that he or she requests, must the defendant seek correction of the procedural flaw by filing a Rule 4-351 motion or may the defendant seek the same relief by filing a Rule 4-345(a) motion?
Attorney for Petitioner: Celia Anderson Davis
Attorney for Respondent: Virginia S. Hovermill
Tuesday, January 7, 2020:
No. 42 David R. Faulkner v. State of Maryland
Issues – Criminal Procedure – 1) Did the lower courts err in evaluating the cumulative impact of multiple discrete but complementary items of newly discovered innocence evidence? 2) Did the lower courts err in evaluating the impact of newly discovered third-party guilt evidence? 3) Did the lowers courts err by holding that evidence was not “newly discovered” for purposes of Maryland Code, Criminal Procedure, §8-301, because defense counsel failed to investigate an incomplete summary of a witness statement, where the State suppressed a videotaped statement by that witness with material additional information?
Attorney for Petitioner: John W.F. Chesley
Attorney for Respondent: Cathleen C. Brockmeyer
No. 43 Jonathan D. Smith v. State of Maryland
Issues – Criminal Procedure – 1) In considering a Writ of Actual Innocence, did the lower courts err in their evaluation of third-party perpetrator evidence? 2) Did the lower courts err in their evaluation of impeachment evidence that speaks to actual innocence?
Attorney for Petitioner: Bryce E. Benjet
Attorney for Respondent: Cathleen C. Brockmeyer
Thursday, January 9, 2020:
AG No. 18 (2018 T.) In the Matter of Stanley Howard Needleman
Attorney for Petitioner: Andrew Jay Graham
Attorney for Respondent: Lydia E. Lawless
No. 44 Rasherd Lewis v. State of Maryland
Issues – Criminal Law – 1) Did CSA err in concluding that the odor of marijuana on a person, without more, constitutes probable cause to arrest? 2) When a majority of a CSA panel concludes that its decision “will result in injustice,” should the court exercise its discretion under Maryland Rule 8-131 and address a constitutional question, which the parties fully briefed in the absence of a preservation challenge, about whether incontrovertible body-camera evidence demonstrates the “seizure” or a person without probable cause?
Attorney for Petitioner: Todd M. Brooks
Attorney for Respondent: Daniel Jawor
Friday, January 10, 2020:
AG Nos. 8 & 64 (2018 T.) Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Arlene Adasa Smith-Scott
Attorney for Petitioner: Jennifer L. Thompson
Attorneys for Respondent: Nicholas Madiou and William C. Brennan, Jr.
No. 40 Steamfitters Local Union No. 602 v. Erie Insurance Exchange, et al.; Steamfitters Local Union No. 602 v. Cincinnati Insurance Company, et al.
Issues – Torts – 1) Do Landowners owe their neighbors a duty of care to protect against potential fires starting in normal, harmless areas of their property, such as landscape mulch, caused by third persons over whom they have no control? 2) Does a Plaintiff need to provide expert testimony as to reasonable, standard and effective measures to prevent such fires? 3) Under the facts and circumstances of this case, was the spoliation instruction unfairly prejudicial to the appellants? 4) Was is proper for the trial court to enter summary judgment on an indemnity agreement where the contention was that the negligence was that of third parties whose activities were related to the indemnitor and where there were questions of fact with regard to whether the contract had expired?
Attorney for Petitioner: James S. Liskow
Attorneys for Respondent: Lawrence F. Walker and Mark D. Palmer
No. 32 Jimmie Rogers v. State of Maryland, et al.
Issues – Criminal Law – 1) When Petitioner pled guilty to an offense under a statute requiring no proof of the victim’s age and no proof of age is provided, does the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services have the authority to make an ex parte finding of fact that the victim is a minor and, thus, order Petitioner to register as a tier II sex offender? 2) Assuming arguendo that the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has the authority to make ex parte findings of fact regarding the age of the victim, what level of proof is required and who may make the ultimate determination of fact? 3) Did CSA correctly apply settled law when it reversed the trial court’s order granting Petitioner’s motion for summary judgment, where Petitioner failed to demonstrate, as a matter of law, that he is not required to register as a sex offender based upon his conviction for human trafficking in violation of Criminal Law § 11-303? 4) Is Petitioner’s separation-of-powers argument both unpreserved and meritless? 5) Is Respondent entitled to summary judgment where Petitioner did not genuinely dispute Respondent’s evidence proving that the victim of the human trafficking offense was a minor, thus establishing as a matter of law that Petitioner was required to register as a sex offender based upon his conviction of human trafficking in violation of Criminal Law § 11-303?
Attorney for Petitioner: Nancy S. Forster
Attorney for Respondent: Edward J. Kelley
On the day of argument, counsel are instructed to register in the Clerk’s Office no later than 9:30 a.m. unless otherwise notified.
After January 10, 2020, the Court will recess until February 6, 2020.
SUZANNE C. JOHNSON