Articles Posted in Maryland Court of Appeals

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Ian Schlakman and Frank Richardson (Appellees) filed suit challenging the decisions of the Baltimore City Board of Elections to certify Dan Sparaco as an eligible candidate and the State Board of Elections to include him as a candidate for the District Twelve seat on the 2016 General Election ballot. The court held that the temporary restraining order the Circuit Court granted was in error because Appellees’ state court challenges to the Boards’ actions were untimely and are barred by laches; Appellees have not explained this delay, or explained why they did not institute a parallel action in the Circuit Court within the statutorily-mandated time limits; where the federal court dismissed Appellees’ action because Appellee’s counsel was not admitted to practice before that court, the savings provision under Maryland Rule 2-101(b) did not apply to toll Appellees’ obligation to file in the appropriate circuit court, as instructed by ELEC. LAW 12-202(b)(1); and Appellees have not demonstrated any basis for relief on the merits under any theory of action or avenue for relief. The court explained that the plain language of ELEC. LAW 5-703(d)(1) does not require candidates to submit the required filings until the first Monday in August preceding the General Election. In this case, the City Board’s certification of Mr. Sparaco as a qualified candidate, and the State Board’s listing of his candidacy, complied with the provisions of the Election Law Article. Accordingly, the court vacated the temporary restraining order and remanded. View "Lamone v. Schlakman" on Justia Law

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Appellants brought this action just weeks before the 2016 general election seeking to compel the State Board of Elections and the Baltimore City Board of Elections (collectively, Appellees) to establish a special system for “inmate voting” in the City for the general election. The circuit court denied the request for a broadly worded temporary restraining order (TRO), concluding that the complaint had been untimely filed. One day before the 2016 general election, the expedited appeal was argued before the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as moot, holding that even if the Court were to find that Appellants were entitled to a TRO with respect to the 2016 general election, there was no way such an order could have been implemented as a practical matter. View "Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections v. Baltimore City Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The complaint in this case was brought both individually and as a class action. Plaintiffs, a police union and others, asserted that Montgomery County, a charter county, was not authorized to use its fiscal and human resources to urge approval of a law enacted by the County Council that limited bargaining rights and that had been petitioned to referendum. The circuit court concluded that the government speech doctrine does not constitute an affirmative authority for government to advocate and spend money on political campaigns. The Court of Special Appeals, however, concluded that the County had inherent power to use properly appropriated funds for a governmental purpose and that advocacy on the non-partisan ballot measure was a governmental purpose. The Court of Appeals agreed, holding that a charter county is authorized to use its resources to encourage the electorate of the County to support or opposed a measure that may have a significant impact on the operations of the County government. View "Fraternal Order of Police v. Montgomery County" on Justia Law

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County Council enacted a bill providing that Appellant forfeited his councilmanic position, concluding that Appellant had moved his residence from his councilmanic district to a correctional facility in South Carolina after having been convicted of failing to file a federal tax return. Appellant challenged the authority of the County Council to expel him as a member based upon its interpretation of the term "residence" in the County Charter as a "temporary place of abode." The circuit court granted summary judgment for the County and County Council. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that "residence" in the Charter embodies the notion of domicile, such that Appellant did not move his residence by virtue of his five-month incarceration. View "Jones v. Anne Arundel County" on Justia Law

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Tiffany Alston, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, was removed as a delegate after she was convicted and sentenced for misconduct in office. Before Alston fulfilled the conditions of her sentence, the assistant attorney general declared her removed from her House seat by operation of law. Gregory Hall was nominated to fill Alston's seat. While Hall's nomination was before the Governor, the Governor requested that the Democratic Central Committee of Prince George's County (Central Committee) withdraw the nomination. Hall filed a complaint seeking to prevent the withdrawal of his nomination. Alston filed, as an intervener and third-party plaintiff in the same case, a separate complaint seeking a declaration that she had been merely suspended, rather than removed, from her House seat because her conviction and sentence had been converted into probation before judgment. The circuit court ruled (1) Alston had been removed by operation of law on the date she was sentenced for her misconduct in office conviction; and (2) the Central Committee had the power to rescind Hall's nomination at any time before the Governor made the appointment. The Supreme Court affirmed, finding no error in the circuit court's judgment. View "Hall v. Prince George's County Democratic Cent. Comm." on Justia Law

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The Town of Oxford introduced a resolution proposing to annex a number of acres of submerged lands. Petition circulators subsequently submitted a petition for referendum regarding the proposed solution. The petition was submitted before the public hearing on the annexation resolution but before the final enactment of the resolution. The Town Commissioners determined that the signatures affixed before final enactment of the resolution were invalid, and therefore, a referendum was not required. Petitioner filed this action, contending that the referendum petition was valid. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Petitioner, holding that signatures on a referendum petition may be collected before final enactment of the targeted annexation resolution. The court of special appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the court of special appeals was correct in concluding that, pursuant to Md. Code Ann. art. 23A, 19, petition signatures gathered after introduction, but prior to commencement of the forty-five day period after final enactment of the resolution, could not be counted toward petitioning the resolution to referendum; and (2) by not counting pre-enactment signatures, the referendum effort did not succeed in obtaining a sufficient number of petition signatures for a referendum election to be held. View "Koste v. Town of Oxford" on Justia Law

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This was the latest in a series of opinions by the Court of Appeals involving the constitutional provision and the implementing legislation authorizing a limited number of slot machines at specified Maryland facilities, including facilities in the area of Anne Arundel County (County). A County zoning ordinance authorized slot machines in certain areas of the County. The circuit court determined that the ordinance was not subject to referendum under the County charter. On appeal, the Court of Appeals (1) held the circuit court's judgment was appealable, as (i) the Legislature no no intention of applying the non-appealability principle of Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. 12-302(a) to cases under the Election Article, and (ii) where the Election Article authorizes judicial review but is silent regarding an appeal, Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc.12-301 authorizes an appeal; and (2) reversed the circuit court's judgment and remanded with instructions to order that the ordinance be placed on the ballot at the general election in accordance with the referendum provisions of the County charter, holding that the ordinance was simply a local ordinance re-zoning an area, and as such, it was not exempt from a referendum. View "Citizens Against Slots At The Mall v. PPE Casino Resorts Md., LLC" on Justia Law

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Following the passage of Maryland's latest congressional redistricting law, SB 1, Intervenor employed a website-based initiative to gather the signatures necessary to petition SB 1 to referendum on the general election ballot in November 2012. The State Board of Elections certified the petition for referendum after determining that Intervenor had gathered the required number of valid signatures. Petitioners subsequently challenged the State's Board's certification of the petition on the grounds that Intervenor failed to submit a sufficient number of valid signatures, objecting to two classes of signatures validated by the State Board. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court also affirmed, holding (1) petition signatures obtained through the use of a third-party website do not violate the statutory requirement that an individual "include" or "provide" his or her identifying information; and (2) an individual can "self-circulate" a petition by signing both as the voter and as the circulator. View "Whitley v. State Bd. of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Maryland Dream Act seeks to exempt certain students from paying out-of-state tuition rates at higher education institutions in Maryland. Following the enactment of the Act, MDPetitions.com petitioned to refer the Act to Maryland's 2012 general election ballot. The State Board of Elections certified the petition for referendum. In response to the Board's certification, Appellants, representing a group of individuals supporting the Act, challenged its referability and sought to remove the Act from consideration on the November 2012 ballot. The trial court entered summary judgment against Appellants, finding that the Act was a proper subject for referendum. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Act was not a law "making any appropriation for maintaining the state government" within the meaning of Md. Const. art. XVI, 2, and therefore was not exempt from referendum. View "Doe v. Bd. of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Board of County Commissioners of Frederick County (BOCC) appointed a nine-member charter board in 2011. The Maryland Constitution provides that the BOCC shall hold a special election for consideration of additional nominated charter board members under certain circumstances. Petitioners, individuals who sought membership on the charter board, circulated a petition in support of nominating candidates for consideration at a special election. The Frederick County Board of Elections (the Board) determined that Petitioners did not satisfy the statutory and constitutional requirements necessary for the BOCC to call a special election. The circuit court judge affirmed the determination made by the Board that the petition contained an insufficient number of valid signatures to require the BOCC to hold a special election. The Court of Appeals granted certiorari and held (1) the Board applied the correct standard for reviewing and validating petition signatures under Md. Code An. Elec. Law 6-203(a), as interpreted by the Court in recent opinions; (2) the doctrine of collateral estoppel was not applicable to the circumstances of this case; and (3) the mandatory petition signature requirements in 6-203(a) and COMAR 33.06.03.06B(1) were not unconstitutional. View "Burruss v. Bd. of County Comm'rs" on Justia Law