Category Archives: Criminal Law

BREAKING: Bail Reform Comes To Maryland 

Not, ultimately, through the legislature but via the Court of Appeals’ rulemaking process. No longer may a defendant be held on bail when he or she does not have the ability to pay the bail amount. Maryland’s highest court adopted a landmark rule Tuesday aimed at ending the practice of holding criminal defendants in jail before trial when they cannot… Read more »

Why Maryland Needs A Reform Agenda, Part The Infinity

Today brings more evidence on something I’ve been advocating for years: bail reform. In our criminal justice system, the setting of bail is one of the key moments in a criminal case. Make bail, things go down one road. Get locked up for more than a day or two, things go down another, much darker road. The fact that school… Read more »

DOJ Issues Report On Baltimore Police: It’s Not Good

Following the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore police custody last year, the City asked the Department of Justice to investigate police practices on a systemic level. More than a year later, the report was issued today and the results are as depressing as they are predictable. The report’s executive summary begins: Today, we announce the outcome of the Department of Justice’s… Read more »

Prison Disturbance In Cumberland – 4 Inmates Injured [UPDATED]

[UPDATE: new information from AFSCME suggests that only one inmate was seriously injured, and 26 inmates were involved, improvised weapons were used, and it was a gang-related incident between the Bloods and the Black Guerilla Family. The point remains that the incident was likely caused by or at least exacerbated by staffing shortages that have been noted numerous times precisely… Read more »

Senseless Death

Forgive me a personal moment here, but I know more than I wish I did about senseless death. Watching the smartest, loveliest, kindest woman I have ever known slowly die over the course of more than a decade, despite an initial 99% likelihood of survival, the best treatment good health insurance could buy, a will of iron and more physical… Read more »

Preach, Brother Pierce!

I can’t watch the videos of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. I can’t. I’ve seen too many of these kinds of things, I’ve warned for years and years that we have a culture of police worship that encourages ever more bold and aggressive actions by officers at every level, that our laws are badly slanted in favor… Read more »

The Freddie Gray Acquittal

I wasn’t surprised by the acquittal of Baltimore police officer Caesar Goodson yesterday. That’s not a statement on his guilt or innocence but on the inability of the criminal justice system to dispense meaningful outcomes when the cases involve police officers. I spent almost 20 years in criminal courtrooms around the state of Maryland. The brutal reality of our system… Read more »

Maryland Court: Police Need Warrants For Stingrays

No, not the kind you find at the Aquarium. For years, Baltimore police have been employing a device called a “stingray” which acts like a cell phone tower, “triggering all cell phones in an area to connect with it and determine where a particular phone is located.” There’s been such secrecy around the use of the devices that the agreement between… Read more »

What’s Going On In The House Of Delegates?

This is turning into a very strange legislative session this year, particularly in the House of Delegates. Two years ago, the General Assembly passed a law decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana (less than 10 grams, a little over a third of an ounce). Last year, the General Assembly also decriminalized possession of marijuana paraphernalia (rolling papers, bongs, and… Read more »

Hogan Petulance Incites Right Wing Vitriol

Governor Larry Hogan, upset that the Democratic General Assembly had overridden all of his vetoes, lashed out with a tirade of petulance the other day. While gubernatorial petulance is one thing, Hogan’s angry call for voters to contact what he called a “radical minority” of legislators in Annapolis to express their displeasure over the vote to restore the right to… Read more »