Tuesday, May 31, 2022

RSRM Welcomes Associate Bryan Cleary!


Bryan Cleary earned his J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law in May 2021. Before that, he graduated from Moravian University in 2018 with a major in Political Science. While attending law school, Mr. Cleary served as a staff editor for the University of Baltimore Law Forum and was a Maryland Rule 19 Student Attorney in the Saul Ewing Civil Advocacy Clinic. Mr. Cleary also spent time interning with the Honorable Debra L. Boardman of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. 
Prior to and during his undergraduate education, Mr. Cleary worked as an operations supervisor for UPS for four years, where he was responsible for managing numerous employees and various areas of the building. 

Immediately after graduating from law school, Mr. Cleary clerked for the Honorable Timothy J. McCrone in the Circuit Court for Howard County.
Outside of the office, Bryan enjoys watching and playing sports, spending time with friends and family, traveling, reading, and playing with his German Sheppard, Stella.

Maryland Court of Appeals Upholds its Tolling of the Statute of Limitations Due to the COVID-19 Court Closures


Murphy v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 2022 Md. Lexis 166 (Filed April 22, 202) (opinion by McDonald, J.)

        In a recently published opinion by the Court of Appeals, Maryland’s highest court held that former Chief Judge Barbera acted within her authority when she issued an administrative order on April 24, 2020,  tolling the statute of limitations in civil matters due to the COVID-19 emergency court closures.

        The underlying commercial dispute in Murphy originally arose in Maryland’s Federal District Court. The parties in the federal suit disputed the timeliness of certain claims and whether the Federal District Court possessed diversity jurisdiction over the claims. As the resolution of these questions depended on the validity of Judge Barbera’s administrative order, the Federal District Court “certified” the question of the order’s validity to Maryland’s Court of Appeals.

        In upholding the administrative order’s validity, the Court of Appeals looked to the Chief Judge’s authority under the Maryland Constitution, the Maryland Code, and the Maryland Rules. The Murphy Court first referenced Art. IV. § 18 of the State Constitution, which confers both administrative and rulemaking authority on the Chief Judge, particularly as that authority pertains to the “practice and procedure” of the courts. The opinion also noted the General Assembly’s acknowledgment that the rulemaking power of the Court of Appeals, “shall be liberally construed.” Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 1-201(a).

        While recognizing that the statute of limitations is a “product of legislation,” the Murphy Court reasoned that it falls to the courts to “interpret and administer” the deadlines imposed by the statute of limitations. Ceccone v. Carroll Home Services, LLC, 454 Md. 680, 691, (2017); Md. Rule 1-203 (computation of time). To illustrate this point, the court observed that questions as to when an action accrues and triggers the statute of limitations are often left to judicial determination, citing Cain v. Midland Funding, LLC, 475 Md. 4, 38 (2021), Poffenberger v. Risser, 290 Md. 631, 634-38 (1981), and Hahn v. Claybrook, 130 Md. 179 (1917). The Murphy Court reasoned that, as with any other enactments of the legislature, courts must ascertain and carry out the legislative purpose behind the statute of limitations.

        In examining the various responsibilities of Maryland’s branches of government during the Pandemic, the court looked to Maryland Rule 16-1003(a)(7), which, during an emergency, allows the Chief Judge to: “suspend, toll, extend, or otherwise grant relief from time deadlines, requirements, or expirations otherwise imposed by applicable statutes,”

        Against this backdrop, the Murphy opinion recounted the various administrative orders issued in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and found “ample and explicit authority under Article IV of the State Constitution and the Maryland Rules” for the Chief Judge to issue the administrative tolling order.

        The remaining issue was whether the order “overreached the authority of the Judiciary” under Articles 8 (separation of powers) and 9 (prohibition against suspension of laws). Regarding separation of powers, the court looked to examples of shared authority between the branches to highlight that the powers of the three branches are often intertwined. For example, the General Assembly has a role in the election and appointments to positions in the Executive Branch while the General Assembly may entrust “legislative-type powers” to Executive Branch agencies charged with administering certain situates. Despite some shared authority, branches run afoul of Article 8 when they “usurp” the powers of another branch. In upholding the validity of the order, the court held that the order was not an expression of a judicial policy preference but rather fell under the court’s “practice and procedure” functions under the Maryland Constitution.

        Finally, the court considered where the order violated Article 9’s prohibition against the suspension of laws. Interestingly, despite being part of the Maryland Declaration of Rights since 1776, the provision had not yet been interpreted by the Court of Appeals. Article 9 provides, "[t]hat no power of suspending Laws or the execution of Laws, unless by, or derived from the Legislature, ought to be exercised, or allowed." The court noted that Murphy Enterprises, the party arguing the violation of Article 9, failed to articulate why the court’s order violated the article and, even if the order constituted a “suspension” of laws, doing so was under the court’s core constitutional powers was in coordination with the other branches of government.  

        While there may be some remaining questions as to how long the statute may be tolled when applied to a particular case, the Murphy opinion left no doubt that the Court of Appeals had the authority to issue the COVID-19 tolling orders. 

                -- Joseph Kavanaugh, Associate

Governor Hogan Announces Several Appointments to Maryland’s Trial and Appellate Courts

In February, Governor Hogan announced several judicial appointments to the Maryland Court of Appeals, Court of Special Appeals, and trial courts in Baltimore City and Washington County. 
Judge Angela M. Eaves was appointed to the Maryland Court of Appeals to succeed Judge Robert N. McDonald. Before her appointment to the Court of Appeals, Judge Eaves served as the Administrative Judge for Harford County Circuit Court. Judge Eaves' legal career included work at both the Maryland Attorney General's Office and the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau. Judge Eaves also served as an assistant city attorney for the City of Dallas. Judge Eaves earned her bachelor's, master's, and J.D. from the University of Texas. 
Judge Matthew J. Fader was appointed to the Maryland Court of Appeals to succeed Judge Joseph M. Getty. Judge Fader was the chief judge of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals prior to his appointment to the Court of Appeals. Before taking the bench, Judge Fader worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, the Maryland Attorney General's Office, and was a partner at the international law firm, K&L Gates, LLP. Judge Fader received his B.A. from the University of Virginia and his J.D. from Yale Law School. 
Judge Anne K. Albright was appointed to succeed Judge Fader on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Judge Albright was a member of the Circuit Court bench in Montgomery County at the time of her appointment to the Court of Special Appeals. Previously, Judge Albright worked for the Maryland Public Defender's Office and the law firm Albright & Rhodes. She obtained her A.B. from Dartmouth College and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.  
Judge E. Gregory Wells was appointed to serve as the chief judge of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Judge Wells had been a member of the Court of Special Appeals since 2019, before which he sat in Calvert County Circuit Court. Judge Wells previously worked in the Attorney General's Office's Criminal Appeals Division and served as the State's Attorney for Calvert County. Judge Wells earned his B.A. from the College of William & Mary and his J.D. from the University of Virginia. 
Judge Joseph S. Michael was appointed to the Circuit Court for Washington County. Judge Michael was the deputy state's attorney for Washington County and had previously maintained a part-time civil practice. Judge Michael obtained his B.A. from the University of Maryland and his J.D. from Washington & Lee University School of Law. 
Judge Tameika M. Lunn-Exinor was appointed to the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City. Judge Lunn-Exinor was an administrative law judge at the Office of Administrative Hearings at the time of her appointment. Before becoming an administrative law judge, Judge Lunn-Exinor practiced civil litigation at firms in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. She received her B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and her J.D. from George Washington University School of Law
Judge Lydie Essama Glynn was appointed to the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City. Judge Glynn was the chief solicitor in the litigation and appeals division at the Baltimore City Solicitor's Office. Her legal career also included work for the Attorney General's Office and other positions at the City Solicitor's Office. Judge Glynn obtained her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her J.D. from the University of Virginia.
Judge Ana De la Hoz Hernandez was appointed to the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City. Judge Hernandez worked for the Maryland Public Defender's Office, most recently in the Baltimore City felony trial division. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Judge Hernandez taught special education courses in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Judge Hernandez received her A.A. from Florida International University, her B.A. from the University of Florida, and her J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law.
Judge Theresa Morse was appointed to the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City. Before her appointment, Judge Morse worked for the Attorney General's Office's Organized Crime Unit and both the Anne Arundel County State's Attorney's Office and the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office. Judge Morse earned her B.A. from Boston College and her J.D. from the University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law. 
Rollins, Smalkin, Richards and Mackie would like to extend their congratulations to all of the new Maryland judicial appointments.  

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Congratulations to Associate Logan Hayes on her recent win!

Ms. Hayes successfully represented a client involved in a motor vehicle accident in which the Plaintiff claimed personal injuries and property damage as a result of her client’s alleged negligence.

The Plaintiff argued that he was traveling on a roadway, had his left turn signal on, and was making a left turn when his vehicle was T-Boned by Ms. Hayes’ client, who was proceeding through the intersection. During Ms. Hayes’ cross-examination, the Plaintiff testified that he had a solid green arrow and the right of way at the intersection. The Plaintiff also presented an independent witness who, under cross-examination by Ms. Hayes, admitted that Ms. Hayes’ client entered the intersection under a yellow light.

Based upon her client’s testimony that he had the right of way in the intersection and the supporting testimony of the Plaintiff’s own independent witness, the Court ruled in favor of the Defense. The Court found that Ms. Hayes’ client had the right of way, was permitted to proceed through the intersection and did not contribute to the collision, rather that the Plaintiff unlawfully and negligently attempted a left-hand turn without the right of way, barring him from recovering damages.