COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

Here are a few thoughts on our future after Dobbs.
1. I have always viewed Roe v. Wade as a compromise – an attempt to settle the dispute between those who favor and oppose choice. It was the middle position, giving preference to choice during the first trimester, and against choice in the third trimester, and balancing the interests during the second trimester. This was later adjusted to viability in Casey and requiring laws not to impose an “undue burden” on choice before that point. Dobbs says a prohibition of abortion survives because there is a rational basis for the legislature to believe the ban supports legitimate state interests. Here are some options for restoring the Roe/Casey compromise.
2. Pass the Equal Rights Amendment. This would allow an end run around Dobbs, recognizing women’s rights, and require the use of the much tougher strict scrutiny test. To pass strict scrutiny, the legislature must have passed the law to further a “compelling governmental interest,” and must have narrowly tailored the law to achieve that interest.

On March 21, 2022, the Director of the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division notified the State’s Attorney co-ordinator for Maryland that the MSP lab would cease doing blood alcohol testing because the accrediting agency determined their testing procedure violated scientific requirements for blood alcohol testing.  Read the letter here.  MSAA BAC Letter_031522

On April 13, 2022, Clarke Ahlers and Serge Antonin released their podcast, the Black and White and thin Blue Lines, https://lnns.co/bZlMhf7g6KX , with special guests Lenny and Michael Stamm where we discuss the MSP lab fiasco, and wonder why it took almost 6 months to tell anyone about it.

If you have a DUI charge and a blood alcohol test, call 301-345-0122 for a free consultation.

Earlier this week, the Maryland Court of Appeals agreed to hear the case of Dejarnette v. State.  In Dejarnette, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals held that a violation of the requirement that officers observe a defendant for 20 minutes before a breath test would only go to the weight to be given to the violation, as opposed to its exclusion.  Dejarnette, represented by the Public Defender’s office, filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, asking the Court of Appeals to take the case.  Dejarnette was joined by the National College for DUI Defense and the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys’ Association, who filed an amicus brief in support of the petition, written by Leonard R. Stamm and others.

Dejarnette will be arguing that a violation of the 20 minutes observational requirement should result in the exclusion of the breath test from evidence, as the 20 minute requirement is an essential component of an accurate and reliable breath test.

While representing people accused of driving offenses, it is come to our attention that occasionally the records the police rely on while apprehending suspects contain some pretty serious errors that can result in prejudice to the driver.  Here are a few examples.

One of our clients was recently charged with driving on a suspended license. A review of the driving record showed that his license had been suspended for 270 days, but for some unknown reason the suspension remained on his record for more than 270 days.  The MVA should have noted the withdrawal of the suspension on the driving record. However it did not, and when the driver was stopped on the 274th day, the officer charged him, among other charges, with driving while suspended.  This can be a pretty serious charge, if the defendant has previously been found guilty of this offense.  It also creates potential immigration issues.  Upon calling the MVA, they corrected the record, and it can now be proven using a certified copy of that record that he is not guilty of driving while license suspended.

Another client moved to Florida and obtained a Florida driver’s license.  He turned in his Maryland driver’s license.  But the MVA did not record this.  When visiting Maryland, he received a charge of driving in violation of a license restriction because all Marylanders under 21 have an alcohol restriction on their driver’s license.  As a result his license was suspended for one year.  However, as a Florida licensee, he should not have been suspended or charged.  After contacting the MVA, they searched for and confirmed that the Maryland license had indeed been surrendered and removed the suspension.

Last week both houses of the Maryland legislature overrode Governor Hogan’s veto and passed the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2001.

The Act will improve the criminal justice system in Maryland a number of ways:

  1. Set stricter standards for use of force by police;

We have noticed lately what seems like an extraordinary number of referrals to the MAB.

When anyone suspects that a driver may have a physical or mental condition that would affect their ability to drive, he or she may refer that person to the Medical Advisory Board (MAB) of the MVA.[1]  Initially, the referral goes to the Division of Driver Wellness & Safety (DW&S).[2]  DW&S sends the person a series of questionnaires that must be completed and returned as well as consent forms for the driver to allow the MVA to obtain reports from the driver’s physician and relevant treatment programs, detailing the condition, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and any medications they have been prescribed. 

After receiving the information, DW&S may take a number of actions.  Parameters are set forth in COMAR § 11.17.03.04 for how to respond to specified medical conditions to guide the MVA’s determination.  DW&S may further refer the person to the MAB for review by a physician.[3]  The Medical Advisory Board makes recommendations to the MVA when individuals are referred to the MAB and a certain physical or mental condition is indicated.[4]

On this Veteran’s Day we pay tribute to the over 17 million veterans in the US today.  These are men and women who have personally sacrificed to preserve our freedoms, and the great experiment in republican democracy that has survived for over 225 years since the adoption of the US Constitution in 1788.  The genius of the US Constitution is the separation of powers between three branches of government, and between the federal government and the states.  With the addition of the Bill of Rights, we are very fortunate to have a representative government, that respects individual liberties.

Our firm is sensitive to the needs of veterans with links to websites that cater to veterans’ needs.  https://www.lstamm.com/veteran-s-resources.html

In recognition of the sacrifices made by veterans, our firm offers reduced fees to many veterans seeking representation for a traffic or criminal matter.

As you all know by now Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away Friday night on erev (the evening of) Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year).  According to Jewish tradition, a person who passes on Rosh Hashanah is considered a “tzadik” – a revered person.  The “Notorious RBG” as she came to be nicknamed is certainly that.

She went to Harvard Law School in an era when women were far from accepted in the legal profession.  After transferring to Columbia Law School she graduated first in her class, yet found few job offers for a woman lawyer.  Yet she never gave up fighting for women’s rights, and the rights of all of us, arguing six cases before the Supreme Court, and famously saying “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”

She eventually landed a seat on the United States Supreme Court.  In her 27 years as a justice, was a powerful voice in such opinions as United States v. Virginia (1996)(striking down VMI’s male-only admissions policy); Olmstead v. L.C. (1999)(individuals with mental disabilities have the right to community-based housing); Bullcoming v. New Mexico (2011)(holding that chemists in DUI cases must be produced by the State for cross-examination in DUI cases), and many others.  She also wrote powerful dissents in Bush v. Gore (2000); Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (2007)(where her dissent led to the Lilly Ledbetter Act – guaranteeing women equal pay) and many others.

Today the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision rejecting the Trump administration’s effort to get rid of DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Robert’s opinion is worth a read.  But here’s my summary of the main points.

Administrative action must be supported by a reason at the time the action is taken and if it is changing a previous policy it must evaluate how it affects people who relied upon the earlier policy.  DACA did two things, conferred benefits and deferred removal proceedings.  Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke issued a memo explaining the termination of DACA at the time relying upon a 5th Circuit ruling declaring DAPA (a similar program for parents) illegal.  But the 5th Circuit opinion only addressed benefits not foregoing removal.  New Sec’y Kirstjen Neilsen expanded upon the reasons nine months later, but post-hoc (after the event) explanations that are different cannot be considered.  She could have issued a new termination decision and explained it but did not.  So her memo would not be considered.  Homeland Security failed to explain why it would change the policy of foregoing removal proceedings and evaluate how it affected people who relied on DACA.  So it was arbitrary and capricious.

Goldstein & Stamm, P.A. is pleased to welcome Michael Stamm to the firm as a new associate attorney.

Michael Stamm graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2017. While there he interned at public defender offices in Upper Marlboro and Baltimore, Maryland and Fairbanks, Alaska. He worked as an Executive Article Editor on the Georgetown Poverty Law Journal and published a note, Between A Rock And Discriminatory Place: How Sentencing Guidelines And Mandatory Minimums Should Be Employed To Reduce Poverty Discrimination In The Criminal Justice System, 24 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol’y 399 (2017).  In his third year, he participated in the year-long Georgetown Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic, where he represented indigent clients charged with misdemeanors in Washington D.C. and those on supervised release in revocation hearings. As part of the clinic, he also taught a class on legal writing for lifers at the Jessup Correctional Institution.  At graduation, he received the Kirby S. Howlett III Memorial Award for his clinic and public defender work. 

After graduating from law school, Stamm worked as a public defender in Montrose, Colorado. During that time he represented people charged with a wide variety of misdemeanors and felonies.  He gained significant courtroom experience, litigating numerous motions and trying over 20 cases to juries. 

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