Monthly Archives: September 2012

Another appellate win for M&Z!

Yesterday the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland released this opinion reversing the Circuit Court for Baltimore County’s entry of summary judgment against one of our clients. The case involves the application of Insurance Article §19-511 in settling an underinsured motorist claim.

Ron Miller offers some preliminary analysis here. I’m not going to steal Ron’s thunder by getting into the specifics myself. I will say that this opinion doesn’t mean that the case is over, there’s still a long way to go. There may be a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Court of Appeals of Maryland to hear the case, and even if there is no petition or a petition is denied, there are issues to be addressed on remand by the trial court.

But for the moment at least, this is a huge win for our badly injured client. Rod Gaston did a great job setting up the issue in the trial court, and I handled the case on appeal. Our law firm is best known for our trial practice, but we also take a lot of pride in the results we get for our clients on appeal. It matters to us that we are on the front lines of developing the body of law that applies to Maryland personal injury cases because that helps not just our clients, but injury victims all over the state.

How to tell if your jurors are using Twitter from the courthouse

In the last few years, the use of social media has increasingly become an issue in the legal field. We are seeing social media being used as evidence in civil and criminal trials. There have been recent Maryland appellate opinions on how to admit evidence of social media use.

There have also been cases involving social media use by jurors. Here in Baltimore, there was an issue in the sensational Sheila Dixon trial about jurors becoming Facebook “friends” with one another. It has now become commonplace for jurors to be instructed that they are not to discuss their jury service on social media during the trial.

Here’s at least one tip for lawyers concerned about jurors using social media: there is a way to at least try to see if there are jurors or potential jurors using Twitter from the courthouse. Bing (Microsoft’s answer to Google) has a Twitter Maps feature that allows you to type in any address, and it will show you the location of any Tweets that have recently been made in the vicinity, as long as the user has geolocation enabled. Just go to Bing Maps, type in the address, click on Map Apps, and select Twitter. Voila!

For example, I just saw a Tweet made a block from the Circuit Court for Baltimore City asking “Is there snoring allowed in the courtroom?” I bet that’s not somebody you want on your jury, right? I’m not sure exactly how useful of a tool this will be, but it’s certainly interesting to play with.

This is what we have to deal with

Can you believe this? A juror just left for vacation during deliberations. And then when she came back all she got was a $300 fine! This is inexcusable, especially when you consider that during the jury selection process prospective jurors are given several chances to tell the court about anything that would prevent them from serving, like a pre-planned vacation.

She should have been put in jail, at least for a day, and been assigned some community service. Fortunately the case was able to continue without a mistrial. That’s probably why the judge let her stay out of jail.