Sixth Edition of Pleading Causes of Action in Maryland is Here.

COA_6thOne of the most frequently consulted books in the law library is out in its new edition. The updated version of Pleading Causes of Action in Maryland by Mark Sandler, Esq. and James K Archibald, Esq., now includes citations for over 2,600 cases as well as updated material on foreclosure proceedings, mandamus proceedings, custody and other family law proceedings. Decisions of the Court of Appeals of Maryland, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, and the United States District Court for the District of Maryland are current as of December 31, 2017.

Reviewing the Complaints and commentary in this book will help you develop an awareness of the elements of your case, and its strengths and weaknesses,” say the publishers, MSBA, Baltimore, Maryland 2018.

Pleading Causes of Action in Maryland is kept on reserve, so please ask if you need it. This title is also available electronically on both Lexis and Westlaw here in the law library, although the 6th edition may not yet be online.


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Blockchain and Pamela Ortiz–The New Trends in State Courts 2018 is Out!

Have you ever experienced a sinking feeling when the word Blockchain  comes up in a news report or a conversation–unsure exactly what it is, let alone what implications it might have for you? There’s an refreshingly clear analogy for Blockchain in an article by Di Graski and Paul Embley titled “When Might Blockchain Appear in Your Court?” featured in the new issue of Trends in State Courts 2018.

“Before paper ledgers, medieval Europeans used tally sticks to record transactions by notching a piece of wood with marks to signify the amount of a transaction, and then splitting the wood lengthwise, with each party taking half. Neither party could change the value by adding more notches because corresponding notches would be missing from the other party’s stick. No central authority was required to validate the transaction because the uniqueness of the stick’s natural wood grain ensured that only the two original pieces would align perfectly when reunited,” say Graski and Embrey.

Key here is the idea that the tally sticks require no central authority. The same goes for Blockchain which uses cryptography to achieve similar autonomy with no central data bank and no ledger-keeper. From this set-up emerge applications such as “smart contracts”, i.e. contracts which activate a remedy, such as a transfer of funds to the violated party, automatically in response to an embedded “If/Then” facility.

Hmn . . . On second thought, this explanation may not be as clear as I hoped. If that’s the case, please check out the Trends in State Courts 2018 in the periodicals section at the law library. Smart contracts are already on their way to a court near you.

Also . . .

Maryland’s own Pamela Cardullo Ortiz is the author of “Developing a Research Agenda for Access to Justice” also in the current issue of Trends. “What factors affect the quality of judicial decisions?” she asks, then proposes a response based on research from Harvard and Stanford, and design thinking techniques borrowed from technology industry start-ups. Broad-based teams, strategic data collection, and decisions grounded in social context are key to her recommendations.

Pamela is Director, Access to Justice Department, Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts. She is the recipient of the 2015 Benjamin L Cardin Distinguished Service Award. Yes, she’s that Pamela Ortiz who fronts the Pamela Ortiz Band that rocks Chestertown!

Trends in State Courts is a peer-reviewed journal, published once a year. You can access its monthly online edition here:


Yankee Doodle Encounters Magna Carta

“Picture the scene. John Adams sits alone, his fellow committee members James Bowdoin and Samuel Adams having decamped to a local tavern. Spread out on the table before Adams are an assortment of sources–Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, Locke’s Second Treatise, Mason’s Declaration of Rights, and other tomes . . .”

IMG_1564Thus goes the process of funneling the rights and principles valued by constitutional thinkers circa 1780 into the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, and ultimately into the US Constitution, according to A. E. Dick Howard in his essay Magna Carta’s American Journey which appears in Magna Carta, Muse and Mentor available in the Law Library.

Those with an eye for lexicographic oddities may find in the same volume essayist Bryan A. Garner’s use of the word “macaronic” to describe the plural form Magna Chartaes favored by the 1989 OED. Not familiar with the term macaronic? Think macaronicus–the Latinization of vernacular, often indulged as a verbal amusement around the time that Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his hat.

BTW, I got interested in the Magna Carta on a rainy day in London a few weeks ago, when one of those famous double-decker buses dropped me off at the British Library which houses one of the four copies still extant of the original sheepskin signed by King John in 1215. It’s a daunting treasure trove . . . and it’s right across the street from Platform 9 3/4 where Harry Potter caught the Hogwarts Express.

For a modern English translation of Magna Carta from the original Latin, go to: