Federal Courts, Private Prisons, and Potential Conflict

A recent federal court case could have significant implications for legislatures seeking to limit or eliminate private detention centers across the country, including in Maryland. In The Geo Group, Inc. v. Newsom, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed a lower court's injunction preventing a private prison company from operating in California based on a state law, AB 32, that phases "out all private detention facilities within the state." The Court justified its…

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AG Releases Revised Public Information Act Guidance

Yesterday, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) released the 16th edition of its Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) Manual. The release follows numerous legislative changes made during the 2021 Maryland General Assembly Session. According to the OAG's website, the Manual is intended as "[a] resource for both government officials seeking to meet their responsibilities under the Act and members of the press and public seeking access to information." In 2021, the Maryland Public Information Act…

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Barron Moves Forward as U.S. Attorney Nominee
Don Curtian, Clifford Mitchell, Delegate Erek Barron, John Holaday
Barron Moves Forward as U.S. Attorney Nominee

On Thursday, September 23rd, Delegate Erek Barron was voted out of the United States Senate's Judiciary Committee, paving the way for his appointment as U.S. Attorney for Maryland. His nomination will be sent to the Senate floor for a final confirmation vote. Delegate Barron, who represents District 24 (Prince George’s County) in the Maryland House of Delegates, has had a strong influence on the General Assembly's criminal justice agenda. In recent years, he has been…

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State to Award $1 Million for Pretrial Services

Today, the Governor's Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services (GOCCP) announced its intention to, under the Pretrial Services Grant Program, distribute $1 million in FY 2022 to local courts and governments to improve pretrial services. In a press release, GOCCP explained the potential benefits of this funding: “Pretrial service programs provide our judges additional tools for safely referring non-violent offenders to alternative services to create better public safety outcomes for our communities,” said Glenn…

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Attorney General Frosh Announces Opioid Settlement with Johnson and Johnson
Attorney General Brian E. Frosh
Attorney General Frosh Announces Opioid Settlement with Johnson and Johnson

Today, Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced Maryland's participation in settlements with Johnson and Johnson as well as the three largest distributors of opioid medications. Johnson and Johnson is expected to pay up to $91.6 million to the state, and for the three distributors, payments could amount to $411.17 million. In a press release, AG Frosh named McKesson, AmeriSourceBergen, and Cardinal Health as parties to the settlement, all of which are accused of contributing to the…

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Senator Will Smith Cites Juvenile Justice Reform as a Priority
courtesy of the Maryland General Assembly
Senator Will Smith Cites Juvenile Justice Reform as a Priority

Senator William C. Smith Jr., Chair of the Maryland Senate's Judiciary Proceedings Committee, voiced strong support for a juvenile justice omnibus bill. In a Guest Commentary column at Maryland Matters, Senator Smith cites a litany of issues requiring potential legislative fixes: The arrests of young kids. The hurdles placed by probation. The overuse of incarceration. The damaging illusion that we can charge and punish youth as if they were adults, even though we know they…

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Sackler Family Immunity in Opioid Lawsuits May Impede Maryland Claims

On Wednesday, September 1, 2021, Federal Judge Robert Drain approved a settlement agreement granting "sweeping immunity [to the Sackler family] from opioid lawsuits linked to their privately owned company Purdue Pharma and its OxyContin medication." NPR reports the settlement is the product of two years of mediation sessions, ultimately requiring the Sackler family "to pay roughly $4.3 billion [and forfeit] ownership of Purdue Pharma." The settlement agreement is opposed by "opioid activists and many legal…

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Maryland’s Highest Court Begins Its 2021-2022 Session

On Wednesday, September 1, 2021, Maryland’s Court of Appeals began its 2021-2022 session. Center Maryland reports the Court will be hearing a number of high profile cases including an appeal from the Beltway Sniper regarding youth parole eligibility, whether a “high school student [may] serve as a voting member on their [local] school boards,” and questions concerning a “criminal defendant’s constitutional right not to testify.” For additional information, also see the full Daily Record article.

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Worcester Prevails in Tax Setoff Case

The Worcester County Commissioners welcomed the recent announcement by the Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of Worcester County Government (WCG) in the tax setoff case filed by Ocean City. Beginning in October 2018, Ocean City sought a ruling that the Maryland Tax-Property Article provisions grant certain counties, like Worcester, the ability to deny municipal tax setoff requests violate the Maryland Constitution. Ocean City also requested that the court require all Maryland counties to…

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MD Courts Rein in County Board of Appeals’ Fine Authority
Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera (Photo Courtesy: www.mdcourts.gov)
MD Courts Rein in County Board of Appeals’ Fine Authority

The Maryland Court of Appeals recently ruled on a Talbot County case, including a subject matter determination that civil penalties are beyond the appropriate realm of charter counties' Boards of Appeals (who govern zoning matters). The decision in the unreported case is summarized on the first page of the decision document: Angel Enterprises Limited Partnership, et al. v. Talbot County, Maryland, et al., No. 45, September Term, 2020, Opinion by J. Booth IMPOSITION OF CIVIL…

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