As many of you may know, the first 2 1/2 weeks of the General Assembly session are dominated by subject matter and fiscal policy briefings before the Standing Committees of the legislature.  As a result, there is relatively little action on the bills introduced in January.

The two January policy briefings that were of significance to the MSBA were 1) a presentation to both the Senate Judicial Proceedings and House Judiciary Committees on newly-adopted Court Rules relating to the governance of assignments of structured settlements, by Judge Alan Wilner (Ret.), Chair of the Court of Appeals’ Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures; and 2) a presentation of the findings of the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council (before the same 2 Committees) by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention and the Pew Center for the States on strategies to make Maryland’s entire criminal justice apparatus more equitable and cost-efficient.

For background on both those briefing topics, please see the Legislative Preview that I wrote back in November, which appeared in the December edition of the Bar Bulletin.

http://www.msba.org/Bar_Bulletin/2015/12_-_December/Judicial_Elections,_Structured_Settlement_Rights,_and_More.aspx

So, finally, February has arrived.  And legislative activity on bills of significance to the MSBA arrived.  Here is a compilation of MSBA bill positions so far.  This listing will not include bills acted upon by the individual substantive law Sections of the MSBA.

 

MSBA Bill Positions (as of February 10, 2016)

Bill Title & Synopsis / Status / MSBA Position

HB 74 (SB 117)
Judgeships – Circuit Courts and District Court

The Speaker

Increasing the number of resident judges of the circuit court in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore City; and increasing the number of resident judges of the District Court in District 5 (Prince George’s County) and District 6 (Montgomery County).” “Committees: Judiciary

SUPPORT

_____________________

SB 117 (HB 74)
  Judgeships – Circuit Courts and District Court

The President (MD Judicial Conference)

Increasing the number of resident judges of the circuit court in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore City; and increasing the number of resident judges of the District Court in District 5 (Prince George’s County) and District 6 (Montgomery County).” “Committees: Budget and Taxation; Judicial Proceedings

House Status:
No Actions

Senate Status:
Hearing 2/03 at 2:00 p.m. (1/20)

Budget and Taxation or Judicial Proceedings
Wed 2/3 2:00 PM

SUPPORT

____________________

SB 121
  Criminal Procedure – Modification of Sentences

Simonaire

Allowing a motion for modification of sentence to be filed within 90 days after imposition of a sentence; prohibiting a court from increasing a sentence on a motion for modification of sentence; prohibiting a court from reducing a sentence below the sentencing guidelines; requiring that the State’s Attorney provide notice to victims regarding a motion for modification of sentence and whether there will be a hearing; prohibiting a court from revising a sentence after 5 years from the date of sentencing;…” “Committees: Judicial Proceedings

House Status:
No Actions

Senate Status:
Hearing 1/28 at 1:30 p.m. (1/15)

Judicial Proceedings
OPPOSE: Procedure outlined in bill is more appropriately covered by Court Rule. Moreover, Act would apply retroactively.

____________________

SB 157
  Criminal Procedure – Life Without Parole – Repeal of Sentencing Proceeding

Cassilly

Repealing specified provisions of law that provide a separate jury proceeding to determine whether a person convicted of first degree murder is sentenced to imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole or imprisonment for life; establishing that a court may sentence a person convicted of first degree murder to imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole without the requirement of a separate jury sentencing procedure under specified circumstances; applying the Act prospectively;…” “Committees: Judicial Proceedings

Judicial Proceedings
SUPPORT: Bill is a clean-up of provisions that are remnants related to repeal of capital punishment.

_____________________

HB 81 Criminal Procedure – Cameras in the Courtroom – Criminal Sentencing Hearings

Conaway

Creating an exception to the general prohibition against recording or broadcasting a criminal sentencing hearing; establishing requirements that a media organization file a specified written request to provide media coverage of a criminal sentencing hearing with the clerk of the court at least 24 hours before the hearing is scheduled to begin; requiring the clerk of court to provide notice of the request to each party involved in the criminal proceeding; providing specified factors that a presiding…

Committees: Judiciary

House Status:
Hearing 2/03 at 2:00 p.m. (1/19)

OPPOSE:  Governance of court proceedings should be governed by Court Rules

____________________

HB 93  Courts – Evidence – Membership in or Association With a Criminal Gang

Wilson, B.

Authorizing the admissibility of specified evidence in a civil or criminal proceeding to prove membership in or association with a criminal gang, with a specified exception.

Committees: Judiciary

House Status:
Hearing 2/02 at 1:00 p.m. (1/19)

OPPOSE: Bill seeks to legislate Rules of Evidence, which should be left to Court Rule

____________________
HB 218 Courts – Evidence of Prior Sexual Offense – Admissibility

Wilson, B.

Prohibiting, in a prosecution for a specified sexual offense, the court from barring the introduction of specified evidence that the defendant committed a prior sexual offense on the ground that the admission is unfairly prejudicial unless the court makes a specified finding; prohibiting a State’s Attorney from introducing specified evidence under specified circumstances; prohibiting specified evidence from being disclosed to a jury or introduced at trial unless the court has held a specified hearing;…” “Committees: Judiciary

House Status:
Hearing 2/18 at 1:00 p.m. (2/4)

OPPOSE:  Bill seeks to legislate Rules of Evidence, which should be left to Court Rule

_____________________________

SB 69  Civil Actions – Child Sexual Abuse – Statute of Limitations

Young

Extending from 7 to 20 years the statute of limitations in specified civil actions relating to child sexual abuse; and applying the Act retroactively.” “Committees: Judicial Proceedings

Senate Status:
Hearing 3/08 at 1:00 p.m. (2/10)

OPPOSE:   Bill seeks to legislate Rules of Evidence, which should be left to Court Rule

_______________________

SB 82  Courts – Prohibition Against Testimony by Convicted Perjurer – Repeal

Chair, Judicial Proceedings Committee (Go’s Ofc of Crime Control & Prevention)

Repealing the prohibition on a person convicted of perjury from testifying in a proceeding.

Committee: Judicial Proceedings

Senate Status:
Hearing 1/26 at 1:00 p.m. (1/13)

Support with Amendments: Amendment would allow impeachment of witness once convicted, beyond the common law limit of 15 years from date of perjury conviction.

__________________________________
SB 150 (HB 237) Courts – Prohibition Against Testimony by Convicted Perjurer – Repeal

Lee, et al.

Repealing the prohibition on a person convicted of perjury from testifying in a proceeding.” “Committees: Judicial Proceedings

House Status:
No Actions

Senate Status:
Second Reading Passed with Amendments (2/10)

Support with Amendments:  Amendment would allow impeachment of witness once convicted, beyond the common law limit of 15 years from date of perjury conviction.

_________________________________

HB 218 Courts – Evidence of Prior Sexual Offense – Admissibility

Wilson, B. et al.

Prohibiting, in a prosecution for a specified sexual offense, the court from barring the introduction of specified evidence that the defendant committed a prior sexual offense on the ground that the admission is unfairly prejudicial unless the court makes a specified finding; prohibiting a State’s Attorney from introducing specified evidence under specified circumstances; prohibiting specified evidence from being disclosed to a jury or introduced at trial unless the court has held a specified hearing;…” “Committees: Judiciary

House Status:
Hearing 2/18 at 1:00 p.m.
OPPOSE: Legislating Rules of Evidence

_______________________________________
HB 223  Circuit Court Judges – Election

West and Barron

Proposing amendments to the Maryland Constitution relating to the selection and tenure of circuit court judges; requiring Senate confirmation of individuals appointed by the Governor to the office of judge of a circuit court; providing for contested elections following an appointment to fill a vacancy in the office of judge of a circuit court under specified circumstances; submitting the amendment to the qualified voters of the State for their adoption or rejection; etc.” “Committees: Ways and Means; Judiciary

House Status:
Hearing 2/25 at 1:00 p.m. (Judiciary) (2/3)

Judiciary
Thu 2/25 1:00 PM

OPPOSE: While appreciative of the general intent of the Sponsors, the bill does not truly eliminate contested judicial elections; further, the bill posits undue control over appointment / election process in the Senate.

_____________________________________

HB 224  Circuit Court Judges – Election

Kramer

Proposing an amendment to the Maryland Constitution relating to the selection and tenure of circuit court judges; altering the method of filling vacancies in the office of a judge of a circuit court; providing for retention elections following an appointment to fill a vacancy in the office of a judge of a circuit court; providing for a transitional period under which the terms of specified amendments are to become effective; submitting the amendment to the qualified voters of the State for their adoption…” “Committees: Ways and Means; Judiciary

House Status:
Hearing 2/25 at 1:00 p.m. (Judiciary) (2/3)

Judiciary
Thu 2/25 1:00 PM

Support with Amendments to provide for outright retention elections after 10 year term.

__________________________________

HB 348 (SB 41)  Vehicle Laws – Driving While License is Suspended – Prison Sentence Repeal

Carter, et al.

Repealing the prison sentence for driving a motor vehicle while a person’s license or privilege to drive is suspended under specified provisions of State law relating to the lapse of required security, noncompliance with traffic citations, and nonpayment of fines; and repealing the prison sentences for driving a motor vehicle while a person’s license or privilege to drive is suspended by another state for failure to comply with a specified notice to appear in court or to pay a specified fine.” “Committees: Judiciary

House Status:
Hearing 2/10 at 1:00 p.m. (1/27)

Judiciary
Wed 2/10 1:00 PM

SUPPORT: removes jail for administrative reasons for suspension of license

_________________________________
HB 388  Circuit Court Judges – Election, Qualifications, and Term of Office

Hill, et al.

Proposing an amendment to the Maryland Constitution relating to the selection and tenure of circuit court judges; requiring an appointment of a circuit court judge to be subject to Senate confirmation; providing for a retention election following an appointment to fill a vacancy in the office of a judge of a circuit court; altering the term of office of circuit court judges from 15 years to 10 years; submitting the amendment to the qualified voters of the State for their adoption or rejection; etc…” “Committees: Ways and Means; Judiciary

House Status:
Hearing 2/25 at 1:00 p.m. (Judiciary) (2/3)

Judiciary
Thu 2/25 1:00 PM

SUPPORT: completely consistent with MSBA State Program

_____________________________________

HB 393 (SB 362)  Award of Attorney’s Fees and Expenses – Violation of Maryland Constitutional Right

Carter, et al.

Authorizing a court to award to a prevailing plaintiff reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses in specified actions seeking to remedy a violation of a Maryland constitutional right; authorizing a court to award reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses to a prevailing defendant under specified circumstances; providing for the prospective application of the Act; etc.” “Committees: Judiciary

House Status:
Hearing 2/10 at 1:00 p.m. (1/28)

Judiciary
Wed 2/10 1:00 PM

Support

_______________________________________

HB 448 (SB 179)  Circuit Court Judges – Selection, Qualifications, and Term of Office

Sydnor, et al. (27)

Proposing an amendment to the Maryland Constitution to repeal provisions relating to election of circuit court judges; requiring the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint a qualified person to fill a vacancy in the office of a judge of the circuit court; altering the term of office of circuit court judges from 15 to 10 years; requiring the Governor to reappoint a circuit court judge, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, upon the expiration of the judge’s…” “Committees: Judiciary

House Status:
Hearing 2/25 at 1:00 p.m. (2/3)

Judiciary
Thu 2/25 1:00 PM

Support with Amendments to provide for retention elections after 10 year term.

____________________________________

SB 187 (HB 659)  Criminal Procedure – Victim’s Right to Restitution – Appeal

Lee, et al.

Authorizing a specified victim to file an application for leave to appeal to the Court of Special Appeals from an interlocutory order or appeal to the Court of Special Appeals from a final order that denies or fails to consider the victim’s right to restitution after the filing of a specified motion requesting relief under a specified provision of law.” “Committees: Judicial Proceedings

Senate Status:
Hearing 2/11 at 1:00 p.m. (1/27)

Judicial Proceedings
Thu 2/11 1:00 PM

OPPOSE: application of the bill would result in delayed proceedings, as well as to raise restitution about other obligations, possibly including child support and tax liens.

____________________________________________

SB 235  Courts – Evidence of Prior Sexual Offense – Admissibility

Brochin, et al.

Prohibiting, in a prosecution for a specified sexual offense, the court from barring the introduction of specified evidence that the defendant committed a prior sexual offense on the ground that the admission is unfairly prejudicial unless the court makes a specified finding; prohibiting a State’s Attorney from introducing specified evidence under specified circumstances; prohibiting specified evidence from being disclosed to a jury or introduced at trial unless the court has held a specified hearing;…” “Committees: Judicial Proceedings

Senate Status:
Hearing 2/17 at 1:00 p.m. (2/3)

Judicial Proceedings
Wed 2/17 1:00 PM

OPPOSE: Legislating Rules of Evidence

____________________________________
SB 356  Local Government Tort Claims Act and Maryland Tort Claims Act – Statute of Limitations and Repeal of Certain Notice Requirements

Zirkin

Repealing a specified notice requirement for a claim under the Local Government Tort Claims Act; repealing a requirement that a claimant submit a claim within a specified time to the State Treasurer or a designee of the State Treasurer under the Maryland Tort Claims Act; providing that when a specified cause of action accrues in favor of a minor or mental incompetent, the claimant shall file an action within 3 years after the disability is removed; and applying the Act prospectively.” “Committees: Judicial Proceedings

Senate Status:
Hearing 2/16 at 1:00 p.m. (2/4)

Judicial Proceedings
Tue 2/16 1:00 PM

SUPPORT: would create a more reasonable time limit for the filing of a claim by private citizens, as well as legal practitioners whose practices do not routinely encounter such claims.

_________________________________________

HB 475  Courts – Grand Juries – Prohibited Action

Sydnor, et al.

Prohibiting a grand jury from inquiring into an offense that involves a shooting or the alleged use of excessive force by a law enforcement officer that leads to the death of a person in law enforcement custody.” “Committees: Judiciary

House Status:
Hearing 2/23 at 1:00 p.m. (2/2)

Judiciary
Tue 2/23 1:00 PM

OPPOSE: would interfere with the investigatory nature of grand jury proceedings, by not allowing witness testimony;

_____________________________________________

HB 481 (SB 502)  Judges – Mandatory Retirement Age

Vallario, et al.

Proposing amendments to the Maryland Constitution increasing to 73 from 70 the mandatory retirement age for judges under specified circumstances; proposing an addition to the Maryland Constitution to provide for the application of specified amendments to the Maryland Constitution; submitting the amendment to the qualified voters of the State for their adoption or rejection; etc.” “Committees: Judiciary

House Status:
Hearing 2/17 at 1:00 p.m. (1/29)

Judiciary
Wed 2/17 1:00 PM

SUPPORT: allows greater flexibility for the Judiciary in staffing the bench
HB 573 (SB 638)  Possession of Loaded Handgun or Regulated Firearm – Enhanced Penalties

______________________________________

Clippinger, et al.

Prohibiting a person from wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun loaded with ammunition on or about the person or in a vehicle under specified circumstances; prohibiting a person from possessing a regulated firearm loaded with ammunition under specified circumstances or if the person is under a specified age; establishing penalties for violations of the Act; requiring the State to comply with the procedures set forth in the Maryland Rules for the indictment and trial of a subsequent offender;…

Committee: Judiciary

House Status:
First Reading Judiciary (2/3)

OPPOSE: mandatory minimum on 2nd offense.

___________________________________________
HB 590  Criminal Procedure – Expungement – Probation Before Judgment

Vallario, et al.

Repealing a provision of law denying a person entitlement to expungement if the petition for expungement is based on the entry of probation before judgment for a specified crime and the person, within 3 years of the entry of the probation before judgment, has been convicted of a specified crime.” “Committees: Judiciary

House Status:
Hearing 3/08 at 1:00 p.m. (2/3)

Judiciary
Tue 3/8 1:00 PM

SUPPORT: The bill is equitable in the manner in which it simplifies the expungement process.

______________________________________

HB 747 (SB 539)  Real Estate Brokers – Licensure Requirement – Exemption for Lawyers

Gilchrist

Altering an exemption from the real estate broker licensure requirement for specified lawyers under specified circumstances.” “Committees: Economic Matters

House Status:
Hearing 2/16 at 1:00 p.m. (2/8)

Economic Matters
Tue 2/16 1:00 PM

Support with Amendment: amendment would remove restriction of the bill that the lawyer could only represent a client in “the lawyer’s regular practice of law”, and not a friend, relative, etc.; Legislature should not attempt to dictate who lawyers may represent.

___________________________________

SB 187 (HB 659)  Criminal Procedure – Victim’s Right to Restitution – Appeal

Lee, et al.

Authorizing a specified victim to file an application for leave to appeal to the Court of Special Appeals from an interlocutory order or appeal to the Court of Special Appeals from a final order that denies or fails to consider the victim’s right to restitution after the filing of a specified motion requesting relief under a specified provision of law.” “Committees: Judicial Proceedings

Judicial Proceedings
Heard Thu 2/11 1:00 PM

OPPOSE: application of the bill would result in delayed proceedings, as well as to raise restitution about other obligations, possibly including child support and tax liens.

____________________________________
SB 223  Human Relations – Discrimination by a Place of Public Accommodation – Enforcement and Remedies

Lee, et al.

Authorizing specified persons or the Commission on Civil Rights to elect to have the claims asserted in a complaint alleging discrimination by a place of public accommodation determined in a civil action brought by the Commission; expanding the remedies available for specified discrimination; clarifying the remedies available for an unlawful employment practice; authorizing a complainant alleging specified discrimination to bring a civil action under specified circumstances; etc.” “Committees: Judicial Proceedings

Judicial Proceedings
Heard Tue 2/9 1:00 PM

SUPPORT: access to justice; allows citizens to file in State court alleging discrimination in public accommodations, brought in a civil action by the Commission on Civil Rights

____________________________________________________

SB 235  Courts – Evidence of Prior Sexual Offense – Admissibility

Brochin, et al.

Prohibiting, in a prosecution for a specified sexual offense, the court from barring the introduction of specified evidence that the defendant committed a prior sexual offense on the ground that the admission is unfairly prejudicial unless the court makes a specified finding; prohibiting a State’s Attorney from introducing specified evidence under specified circumstances; prohibiting specified evidence from being disclosed to a jury or introduced at trial unless the court has held a specified hearing;…” “Committees: Judicial Proceedings

Senate Status:
Hearing 2/17 at 1:00 p.m. (2/3)

Judicial Proceedings
OPPOSE: Legislating Rules of Evidence.

_______________________________________
SB 502 (HB 481)  Judges – Mandatory Retirement Age

Miller, et al.

Proposing amendments to the Maryland Constitution increasing to 73 from 70 the mandatory retirement age for judges under specified circumstances; proposing an addition to the Maryland Constitution to provide for the application of specified amendments to the Maryland Constitution; submitting the amendment to the qualified voters of the State for their adoption or rejection; etc.” “Committees: Judicial Proceedings

Senate Status:
Hearing 2/16 at 1:00 p.m.

Judicial Proceedings
SUPPORT: will give the Judiciary greater flexibility in staffing the bench.

_______________________________________
SB 513 (HB 377)  Maryland No-Fault Birth Injury Fund

Nathan-Pulliam, et al.

Establishing a system for adjudication of a claim involving a birth-related neurological injury; providing equitable compensation, on no-fault basis, for a limited class of catastrophic injuries that result in unusually high costs for custodial care and rehabilitation; establishing the Maryland No-Fault Birth Injury Fund to provide compensation and benefits to eligible claimants; providing for specified premiums and insurance surcharges to be used to finance and administer the Fund; applying the Act…” “Committees: Finance; Judicial Proceedings

Judicial Proceedings
Thu 2/25 1:00 PM

OPPOSE: limiting access to justice.

________________________________________
SB 539 (HB 747)  Real Estate Brokers – Licensure Requirement – Exemption for Lawyers

Conway

Altering an exemption from the real estate broker licensure requirement for specified lawyers under specified circumstances.” “Committees: Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs

Senate Status:
Hearing 2/25 at 1:00 p.m.

Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs
Thu 2/25 1:00 PM

Support with Amendment: amendment would remove restriction of the bill that the lawyer could only represent a client in “the lawyer’s regular practice of law”, and not a friend, relative, etc.; Legislature should not attempt to dictate who lawyers may represent.

_______________________________________
SB 638 (HB 573)  Possession of Loaded Handgun or Regulated Firearm – Enhanced Penalties

Pugh

Prohibiting a person from wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun loaded with ammunition on or about the person or in a vehicle under specified circumstances; prohibiting a person from possessing a regulated firearm loaded with ammunition under specified circumstances or if the person is under a specified age; establishing penalties for violations of the Act; requiring the State to comply with the procedures set forth in the Maryland Rules for the indictment and trial of a subsequent offender;…” “Committees: Judicial Proceedings

Senate Status:
First Reading Judicial Proceedings (2/5)

OPPOSE: mandatory minimum on 2nd offense.

Next Week on msbalegislation.org: