The Weekly Writ: Maryland Legal News You Can Use for May 17, 2021

Today on May 17, 2021, read about:

Of course, if these or any other legal questions are impacting you and your family, then don't hesitate to reach out to JC Law for your free initial consultation with one of our expert domestic, criminal, or civil litigation attorneys.

The Masks Come Off in Maryland

Original Story

What's Going On:

Following the Centers for Disease Control's announcement last Thursday, people vaccinated against Covid-19 no longer need to wear masks. Maryland lifted its mask restrictions on Saturday.

The only places where mask restrictions will remain are in schools, healthcare settings, and public transportation. Although restrictions for all in the state are lifted, Gov. Larry Hogan said it is still advisable for those not vaccinated to wear masks.

The significant change is the legal mandate from Maryland requiring masks at all indoor venues is no longer enforced. Meaning you can no longer be punished with a civil citation. The governor also announced businesses are permitted to operate at 100% capacity.

Why This Matters To You:

We have done it! Maryland made it to the other side of the Covid-19 global pandemic. The vaccination rates continue to increase as all residents have access to the vaccine.

We can freely breathe the air without face coverings. For over a year now, Maryland residents were required to wear a mask or face covering inside public places and businesses, facing the possibility of a citation for not following the mandate. It will be up to business owners to make their guidelines for mask-wearing.

Even though our state has lifted the restrictions, make sure to keep a mask handy as some places may still require them inside the business to protect employees and other shoppers who may not be vaccinated yet.

Also, local governments may impose different guidelines at this time. So, we can't just go ditching the masks altogether at this point. Remember to read signs before entering an establishment because you could still face a legal complication if you don't wear a mask in a business requiring them; trespassing and nuisance ordinances and laws can still affect these situations.

More About Trespassing in Maryland

 

Gang Members Charged for Operating Drug Ring in Morris Hill Neighborhood

Original Story

What's Going On:

Multiple people face charges related to an alleged drug trafficking ring based in the Morris Hill community of Glen Burnie. The defendants are indicted on charges of participation in a criminal organization, assault, and conspiracy to distribute drugs, as well as firearms charges.

An investigation into the drug activity began in November 2019 after the homicide of an alleged member of the ring of traffickers in the Morris Hill area.

Why This Matters To You:

Despite our lawmakers' attempts at making marijuana recreationally legal in Maryland, it and other drugs are still illegal in the state. Because they remain illegal, the money to be made on the streets will tempt some into selling and profiting off of other's addictions.

The drug trade brings the possibility of violence through assaults or, worse, murder. In this case, the latter led to the downfall of the alleged illegal activity. Homicide always brings intense scrutiny of the police.

Although 15 people have been indicted and charged with these offenses doesn't mean they will face those charges. Cooperation with police by any of the suspects could result in lesser charges. Proving they had no part in the drug ring and were hanging out with the wrong people could get them off the hook altogether.

The demand for drugs remains high, so the likelihood of other gang members or people moving in to take over is high. And this vacuum could create a volatile and violent situation as the turf is battled over for control.

More About Maryland Drug Charges

 

Judge Orders New Trial, Could Be The 5th Murder Trial In This Case

Original Story

What's Going On:

Keith Davis Jr. was granted another new trial. The ruling sets the stage for a possible fifth murder trial for Davis, accused of gunning down a Pimlico security guard in 2015.

Davis's previous trials resulted in hung juries and convictions overturned. His attorney wants State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby to give up and allow him to go free since she has failed to solidify a sentence in the previous four murder trials.

Keith Davis and his wife maintain his innocence in the homicide. Legal experts believe the case is too compromised because of the many reversals.

Why This Matters To You:

The definition for insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results. The Baltimore State Attorney's office has repeatedly tried to convict Mr. Davis without success.

These recurring trials show the ineffectiveness of the prosecution's argument for guilt and wastes taxpayer's dollars. If the evidence used to gain the conviction isn't strong enough to uphold the ruling, it probably won't be good to get a new conviction, even more so if it's on to the fifth trial.

To convict a person of a homicide requires more than just circumstantial evidence, which appears to be mostly what the case against Mr. Davis is, circumstantial.

We at JC Law applaud Mr. Davis' defense attorney's for their diligent work for their client and justice in Maryland.

More About Maryland Murder Charges

 

Maryland District Court Bans Thin Blue Line Masks for Employees

Original Story

What's Going On:

Maryland district courts are banning employees from wearing masks with the "Thin Blue Line." According to chief judge John P. Morrissey, the ban only applies to employees.

The ruling comes after the court received complaints about a "perceived bias."

Why This Matters To You:

Although we have the First Amendment right to free speech, our employers may not agree with our position and have the right not to allow certain things worn in the workplace.

These rules help prevent workplace distractions or disagreements that would affect the daily workflow. They also maintain a peaceful and safe workspace.

Displaying this support is a conflict of interest to the justice system. The system works for both the people and law enforcement, not one or the other. We want to feel like we are receiving a fair shot at justice when in the courthouse.

Our personal beliefs and stances should be kept out of the justice system if we are to balance the scales.

More About Maryland Court System Matters

Baltimore Police Commissioner Asks for Federal Action Against "Ghost Guns"

Original Story

What's Going On:

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison testified in the US Senate about the 300% increase in "ghost guns" seized in the last year by city law enforcement, asking for federal action against the weapons.

Ghost guns are guns made from a kit and not subject to federal firearm regulations. This lack of regulation has created a loophole that criminals take advantage of and purchase guns.

The hearing Commissioner Harrison attended followed a proposed rule from the Department of Justice that seeks to expand the definition of a firearm to include the assembly kits used to create "ghost guns."

Why This Matters To You:

Not a day goes by without a debate on gun control. In Maryland, local law enforcement sees more unregistered guns circulating, leading to an uptick in violent crimes.

The rise in "ghost gun" popularity amongst criminals comes from the fact that they are untraceable. There is no serial number associated with these kits, so there is no way to track who buys them and where they are sold.

Crimes committed using these guns are tough to solve, and law enforcement officials would like "ghost guns" treated like any other firearm, made with a serial number and traceable.

In a city where the homicide rate remains among the nation's highest, law enforcement is searching for ways to curtail the violence.

Gun control advocates support this move, while gun-rights advocates don't. Not atypical, but in today's world of mass shootings and rising gun violence, the voice of gun control grows louder.

Compromise is needed to find a solution. Both sides will have to work together to find a suitable result in this "ghost gun" debate.

More About Maryland Gun Charges

 

Federal Judge Nixes Child Porn Plea

Original Story

What's Going On:

A Maryland man whom authorities describe as the world's largest purveyor of child pornography had his plea deal rejected by a federal judge. The deal called for the defendant to serve a 15–21-year prison sentence, but a judge said it was too flawed and did not agree with the outcome.

The judge also stated they were inclined to give a harsher sentence for running a web hosting service that offered users anonymous access to millions of illicit images and videos, many depicting child pornography. Criticism was made against a provision that wouldn't have given the defendant credit for six years he served behind bars in Ireland fighting extradition to the US.

Since the judge rejected the plea, the defendant is entitled to withdraw his guilty plea, setting the stage for further negotiations in a plea or a trial. The judge ordered a decision to be made by June 25, the next scheduled court appearance.

Why This Matters To You:

Just because prosecution and defense attorneys agree on a plea deal does not mean that a judge has to. A judge must approve any deal that involves the court. They make decisions based on the law and the interest of public safety.

In this case, a judge believed the terms of the plea deal were not sufficient a penalty for the alleged crime committed. Our society has a high level of moral disdain for child pornography and believes it is an offense that deserves harsh punishment. The defendant is alleged to be the largest provider of child pornography globally, so it is not surprising a judge found a maximum of 21 years as insufficient.

Questions to the legality of law enforcement evidence gathering will surely come into play. The defendant used the encrypted dark web browser Tor, and his attorneys are skeptical of how federal investigators broke through the browser's notorious anonymity.

Evidence collection is integral to making a case against a defendant. Questions about how and where the evidence came from bring skepticism about the evidence. If the evidence is gathered unethically or illegally it cannot be used against a defendant.

More on Child Pornography Charges in Maryland