Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Governor Hogan Appoints Eight New Maryland Judges

Governor Larry Hogan recently announced the appointments of eight new judges across the state of Maryland, including:

  • Judge ShaRon Marie Grayson Kelsey, Judge Jared Michael McCarthy, and Judge Wytonja LaCheryl Curry to the Prince George’s County Circuit Court; 
  • Judge Patrick Joseph Devine to the Charles County Circuit Court;
  • Judge Andrew Martin Battista to the Baltimore County Circuit Court;
  • Judge Kerwin Anthony Miller, Sr. to the District Court for Harford County;
  • Judge Joseph Michael Stanalonis to the St. Mary’s County Circuit Court; and 
  • Judge Sidney Allen Butcher to the District Court for Anne Arundel County.

Prior to her appointment, Judge ShaRon Kelsey worked as a solo practitioner and served as the sole contract attorney for the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services since 2011. She earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland and her Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center. 

Judge Jared McCarthy worked as the County Attorney for the Prince George’s County Office of Law prior to his appointment. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Salisbury State University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Judge Wytonja Curry holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore School of Law. Prior to her appointment, she worked as a litigation attorney with various firms within the state. She also served as a clerk to Judge Richard H. Sothoron, Jr., at the Prince George’s County Circuit Court. 

Judge Patrick Devine previously worked as a partner in a firm located in Prince George’s County. He also served as a volunteer lawyer with the Family Law Pro-Bono clinic in Charles County. Judge Devine earned his Bachelor of Arts from West Virginia Wesleyan College and his Juris Doctor from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.

Judge Andrew Battista has worked as a solo practitioner in Baltimore County since 1993. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Towson University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Judge Kerwin Miller received his Bachelor of Science from Mary Washington College and his Juris Doctor from the Southwestern University School of Law. Prior to his appointment, Judge Miller served as an Administrative Law Judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings since 2016. He also previously worked as Deputy State’s Attorney for Cecil County.

Judge Joseph Stanalonis graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore School of Law. Previously, he held multiple positions in the St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, including District Court Chief, Senior Assistant State’s Attorney, and most recently, Deputy State’s Attorney.

Judge Sidney Butcher, prior to his appointment, served as an Assistant Attorney General for Maryland. He has also worked with Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, and worked as a prosecutor in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office. Judge Butcher holds a Bachelor of Science from Florida A&M University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas School of Law.

Congratulations to the new Judges! 

-Elizabeth McKelvy, Law Clerk

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

RSRM Organizes Charity Drives!

Over the last couple of months, RSRM organized donation drives, collected in-need items, and donated to multiple resource centers and charities!

During the holidays, the Firm collected and donated several boxes of women’s toiletry items and blankets to My Sister’s Place Women’s Center, a shelter serving homeless, impoverished, and abused women and children in Baltimore. The Firm’s associates also participated in the State Bar’s Young Lawyers Section’s annual holiday toy drive, which sponsors families in need during the holidays.

Last month, RSRM  organized a Winter Sock Drive to donate women’s and children’s socks and tights to the World Young Women’s Christian Association, an organization working for the empowerment, leadership and rights of women, young women, and girls in more than 120 countries.

This Spring, some of RSRM’s associates will participate in the Maryland State Bar Association’s annual charity banquet to raise $20,000.00 for the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. Later this year, RSRM will also organize a canned food drive for the Maryland Food Bank, which provides food and meals to more than 1,250 soup kitchens, pantries, shelters, and other community organizations across the state.

Thank you to our attorneys and staff for their efforts!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Maryland Court of Special Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment on Contributory Negligence

Michele Cooper v. David Good, et al., January 8, 2019 (Court of Special Appeals of Maryland)

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals recently issued an unreported opinion in Michele Cooper v. David Good, et al., in which it upheld the trial court’s award of summary judgment in the Defendant’s favor.  The decision upheld the lower court’s determination that the Plaintiff was contributorily negligent as a matter of law, and as a result, barred from recovery against the Defendant.

The underlying facts of this controversy arose when David Good (“Mr. Good”) was traveling in the right lane of Coastal Highway at a slow speed in preparation for making a right turn into a nearby restaurant.  Signage over the road indicated that the right lane was reserved for buses, bicycles, and cars making a right turn. Michele Cooper (“Ms. Cooper”), riding a bicycle, was traveling on the same road and in the same lane behind Mr. Good’s vehicle.  As she neared Mr. Good’s vehicle and noticed that it was “barely moving,” she passed his vehicle to his right—between his vehicle and the curb. As Ms. Cooper attempted to pass Mr. Good’s vehicle, Mr. Good made a right turn, resulting in a collision from which Ms. Cooper sustained injuries.

Ms. Cooper filed a negligence suit against Mr. Good.  Mr. Good filed a motion for summary judgment against Ms. Cooper, contending that the undisputed facts established that he was not negligent; rather, Ms. Cooper was contributorily negligent.  Although Ms. Cooper argued that there were material facts of dispute (namely, Mr. Good’s use of his turn signal and his speed), the trial court granted Mr. Good’s motion, noting that bicyclists are held to the same rules as other vehicles.

Ms. Cooper appealed to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, arguing that the trial court improperly assumed the function of the jury.  The Court of Special Appeals disagreed, affirming the trial court and holding that Ms. Cooper was contributorily negligent as a matter of law, and that there were no genuine disputes of material fact as to Ms. Cooper’s own negligence.

Ms. Cooper argued that her maneuver of passing Mr. Good to the right was lawful because § 21-304(b) of the Transportation Article permits drivers of vehicles to overtake and pass to the right when it is safe to do so.  The Court of Special Appeals disagreed, pointing out that a full reading of the Statute suggests that passing and overtaking to the right is limited to circumstances when the overtaken vehicle is turning left, or when the roadway is wide enough for more than two lanes of vehicles.  Because those circumstances were not present in this case, the Court found that Ms. Cooper violated the Transportation Article.

The Court acknowledged that Ms. Cooper’s statutory violation alone was insufficient to find her contributorily negligent as a matter of law.  As such, the Court considered other undisputed facts that demonstrated Ms. Cooper’s contributory negligence.  Those undisputed facts included: (1) Ms. Cooper overtaking a slow-moving vehicle to the right in a lane designated for right-turning traffic only; (2) Ms. Cooper’s admission that she was aware that other vehicles in that lane could turn right; (3) there were numerous businesses with entrances along the right side of the roadway; and (4) Ms. Cooper attempting to pass in a narrow space between the passenger side of Mr. Good’s vehicle and the curb on the right side of the roadway.

Ms. Cooper further argued that summary judgment was inappropriate because there existed multiple disputes of material facts, some of which included: (1) whether Mr. Good used a turn signal; and (2) whether Mr. Good looked out for Ms. Cooper before turning.  The Court found that these facts were material to whether Mr. Good was negligent, but had no bearing on Ms. Cooper’s own negligence, which the Court held was properly decided.

It is important to remember that this unreported opinion from the Court of Special Appeals is not binding on lower courts.  However, it is a significant, but rare, example of Maryland courts’ willingness to enter and uphold summary judgment based upon a plaintiff’s contributory negligence.

-Benjamin Beasley, Associate Attorney