Articles Posted in Current events

On this day 35 years ago, September 4, 1984, I began the practice of law.  I walked into court with my mentor and friend, the late great Alan Goldstein, to watch him litigate motions in a conspiracy to commit murder case.  I had just returned from my honeymoon in Greece the day before.  And while I was in that jet-lagged state, Alan introduced me.

Your honor, I would like to introduce Mr. Leonard Stamm.  You have known him as he clerked across the hall last year.  Now he is my associate.  And he is going to argue today’s motions.
With that, Alan sat down.  And he, and the judge, and the prosecutor looked at me and said “Get up!”  I, of course, was completely unprepared, and shocked.  They all looked at me and again said “Get up” again.  As I slowly started to stand up, they all started laughing.  And with that began my practice of law.

The State’s Attorney for Baltimore City, has announced on January 29, 2019, that marijuana possession cases will no longer be prosecuted in Baltimore.  In an article in the New York Times, Marilyn Mosby stated that it makes no sense to prosecute marijuana cases because it diverts resources from investigating more serious crimes and it alienates members of the community whose support police need to investigate these crimes.  Additionally, the State’s Attorneys’ office will be reviewing 5,000 marijuana possession convictions and proposing legislation to make it easier to vacate convictions for marijuana possession.

As the Daily Record reported yesterday (Jan. 23, 2019), a bill will be introduced in the Maryland legislature to expand Noah’s Law (named after Noah Leotta – a police officer killed by a drunk driver) to require an ignition interlock be installed as a condition of a probation before judgment.  Currently, first offenders who blow a .15 or higher, or refuse to submit to a breath or blood test are required to obtain an ignition interlock for one year or have their licenses suspended for 180 or 270 days respectively (for a first test failure or refusal).  If the driver submits to a test with a result of .08 or more but less than .15, the 180 day interlock is optional.  That person may elect instead to drive with a permit that allows driving for work, school, medical, or alcohol education restricted driving privileges.  Currently, some first offenders escape the interlock where they win the MVA hearing for a test failure or refusal, or if they have an out of state driver’s license.

There are some significant problems with the proposal, such as dealing with individuals who share cars with family members, who don’t own a car, who have to drive clients to earn a living or who live out of state.  Currently, out of state drivers are not allowed to participate in Maryland’s ignition interlock program.  This can be a devastating problem for drivers who live out of state and work in Maryland.  Additionally, the law would deprive judges of the discretion to deny interlock in an appropriate case.  This was the decision the legislature made a few years ago when Noah’s Law was enacted.  Also commercial drivers are not allowed to drive commercial vehicles while their licenses are restricted in this way.

As the Daily Record reported: