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Archive for the ‘Maryland Law’ Category

New Look for People’s Law Library of Maryland

Posted by Joan Bellistri on August 30, 2018

Peoples The People’s Law Library of Maryland has a new look.  We were accustomed  to the look and feel of this important website since we use it many times everyday and so were a bit surprised to see the new design with Maryland colors pop-up on the screen.

People’s still provides the links we refer to everyday – the legal directory, the legal clinics listing, and, of course, all of the legal information on topics important to Maryland citizens.

The front page provides a link to the Maryland Courts Self-Help Center as well as the phone number where live assistance is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. (I appreciate the live chat button on every information page as it makes for easy referrals – to  information and live assistance in one convenient place.)

The People’s Law Library of Maryland is an important tool that we use all of the time.  It makes assisting those that call in or email with questions so much easier as long as they have a computer or smart phone.  People’s articles can be a part of almost every reference response for non-attorney questions.  We are fortunate to have such a great resource in Maryland.

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Maryland 2018 Session: New Maryland Laws Effective July 1, 2018

Posted by Joan Bellistri on August 28, 2018

Most new Maryland laws become effective October 1.  However, there are still a number that have an effective date of July 1.  Many of those laws concern alcoholic beverages but some of the other issues include:

A full list of laws with a July 1 effective date is here.

There were also a number of laws with a June 1 effective date which include the BUDGET RECONCILIATION AND FINANCING ACT OF 2018  SB187 /CH10.  A full listing is here.

And just one bill became law on June 30, SB885/CH622. It alters the statutory formula that determines the compensation required to be paid to the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Fund on condemnation of land.

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Maryland 2018 Session: New Laws -Expungement

Posted by Joan Bellistri on August 24, 2018

This excerpt from the 90 Day Report – A Review of the 2018 Session at E-8 provides a good discussion of the 2018 changes to the expungement law per HB382/CH686 and SB101/CH143:

Under the Criminal Procedure Article, a person who has been charged with the commission of a crime, including a crime under the Transportation Article for which a term of imprisonment may be imposed, or who has been charged with a civil offense or infraction, except a juvenile offense, as a substitute for a criminal charge may file a petition for expungement listing the relevant facts of a police record, court record, or other record maintained by the State or a political subdivision of the State, under various circumstances listed in the statute. House Bill 382 (passed) clarifies that a person may petition for expungement of any civil offense or infraction, except a juvenile offense. The bill repeals the requirement that the civil offense or infraction be a substitute for a criminal charge.

Chapter 515 of 2016, also known as the Justice Reinvestment Act, authorized the expungement of convictions for several specified offenses, the vast majority of which are misdemeanors. Expungements of these convictions are subject to specified procedures and waiting periods. Senate Bill 101 (passed) authorizes the expungement of a felony conviction for theft, possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance, and burglary. The bill specifies that a petition for expungement of a felony is subject to a waiting period of 15 years from when the person satisfies the sentence or sentences imposed for all convictions for which expungement is requested, including parole, probation, or mandatory supervision. For a further discussion of Senate Bill 101, see the subparts “Criminal Law” and “Public Safety” within this part of this 90 Day Report.

These changes will go into effect October 1, 2018.

To learn more about expungement and expungement resources, check out expungement on the Maryland People’s Law Library and our wiki page. In addition, the Maryland Courts website includes information on how to expunge your records and a video.

 

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Maryland 2018 Session: New Laws -Divorce and Mutual Consent

Posted by Joan Bellistri on August 21, 2018

This excerpt from the 90 Day Report – A Review of the 2018 Session provides a good discussion of the 2018 changes to the divorce law concerning mutual consent.

Under current law, a court may grant an absolute divorce on the ground of mutual consent if (1) the parties do not have any minor children in common; (2) the parties execute and submit to the court a written settlement agreement signed by both parties that resolves all issues relating to alimony and the distribution of property, as specified; (3) neither party files a pleading to set aside the settlement agreement prior to the divorce hearing required under the Maryland Rules; and (4) both parties appear before the court at the absolute divorce hearing.

Senate Bill 96/CH849 (passed) repeals the requirement that both parties appear before the court in order to be granted an absolute divorce on the ground of mutual consent. Senate Bill 120/CH850 (passed) repeals the restriction that limits absolute divorces on the ground of mutual consent to parties without minor children in common. Instead, it requires the written settlement agreement submitted to the court to also resolve all issues relating to the care, custody, access, and support of minor or dependent children. The parties must attach to the settlement agreement a completed child support guidelines worksheet, if applicable. The bill also establishes that as a condition to granting an absolute divorce on the ground of mutual consent, the court must be satisfied that any terms of the settlement agreement relating to minor or dependent children are in the best interests of those children.

In regards to Twelve-month Separation , Oral Amendment to Divorce Application Statutory provisions set forth a process by which a court may grant a limited divorce, which does not sever the marriage but does grant the complaining party the right to live separate and apart from the other spouse. A limited divorce also can address issues of custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and use and possession of a family home. A court may grant an absolute divorce based on numerous specified grounds, including the ground of 12-month separation when the parties have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for 12 months without interruption before the filing of the application for divorce. House Bill 1368/CH782 (passed) authorizes an oral amendment to a previously filed application for a limited or absolute divorce, that is made by a party with the consent of the other party at a hearing on the merits in open court, to qualify as “the filing of the application for divorce” in statutory provisions regarding an absolute divorce on the ground of a 12-month separation.

These changes will go into effect October 1, 2018.

For assistance and more information on family matters please see the following:

  • The Family Law Self Help Center provides self-represented litigants with legal information and forms for family law matters such as divorce, custody, visitation, child support and name changes. Located at the Law Library, the Family Law Self Help Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. (but closes for lunch from 1:00 – 2:00).
  • Maryland Courts Self-Help Center  provides phone (410-260-1392) and live chat assistance Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. 
  • The Law Library’s wiki site includes pages dedicated to Family Law Resources, including referrals, forms and reference materials.
  • The Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County’s website includes a “Learn About” page addressing Family Law Cases.
  • The Maryland Courts’ website includes information about Family Law Issues, such as adoption, child custody, child support, divorce, marriage and name change.
  • The Maryland People’s Law Library has many articles on family law topics

For more information or help getting started with your research, contact the Law Library!

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New Laws in Maryland – The 90 Day Report: A Review of the 2018 Legislative Session

Posted by Joan Bellistri on May 11, 2018

The 90 Day Report is published each year at the conclusion of the legislative session. The 2018 report was issued on April 13, 2018, less than a week after the last day of the session.  Seems pretty amazing since the report is more than 400 pages. It begins with a list of the major issues and where to find the information in the report. The major issues are identified as budget, business, education, consumer protection, health, public safety (which includes the courts), state government and transportation.

The bulk of the report is divided into 12 parts labeled A through L with a Part M being a list of bills.  Issues of interest to the legal community can be found in Part E “Crimes, Corrections, and Public Safety” and Part F “Courts and Civil Proceedings.”

Future blog posts will dig deeper into the 2018 Session by reviewing this report.

 

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Legal Self Help Videos for Maryland

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 18, 2018

movie cameraRepresenting yourself in a civil case or just interested in learning about the law and Maryland courts?

The Access to Justice Department of the Maryland Judiciary has created a library of videos for the self-represented: My Laws, My Courts, My Maryland: A video series for the self-represented.

Family Law videos include three videos on guardianship. The Getting Started videos cover topics such as how to find legal help, legal research, deciding to represent yourself and how to work with a lawyer.  A number of topics are covered under Law Topics including expungement, rent court, foreclosure and small claims. In Court Basics learn about filing fees, getting ready for court and interpreter services.

 

For every video there are:

  • Transcripts in English and Spanish
  • A printable tip sheet summarizing the video
  • Links to resources, fors, and court services

To see all the topics covered see the full listing of videos.

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New Maryland Laws Take Effect on October 1, 2017 – Can’t Find What You’re Looking For?

Posted by Joan Bellistri on September 29, 2017

lawsNew Maryland laws take effect on October 1, 2017! We published a series of posts highlighting a few of the newly enacted laws, but this is just a small sampling of the new laws enacted by the 2017 Legislative Session. The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) of the General Assembly of Maryland provides a full listing.

Was there a major issue from the 2017 session that was not covered in this series? The 90 Day Report – A Review of the 2017  Session, published by DLS, includes a hyperlinked list of Major Issues from 2017 such as the budget, education, public safety, taxes and voting rights.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?  DLS publishes a Popular Terms List as a reference for current legislation that is often referred to by the public and media by certain popular terms.

Do you prefer paper sources?  The Law Library’s collection includes the following resources:  the advance (paperback) Laws of Maryland, arranged in chapter number order with separate volumes for a Sponsor Index, the Final Status Report, and Committee Index; West’s Maryland Legislative Service with a list of sections affected; and  the 2017 Maryland Legislative Review Service, published by LexisNexis, which summarizes the 2017 Acts of the Maryland General Assembly Regular Session and organizes the 2017 Acts by topical headings. In addition, the Law Library’s Maryland collection includes print copies of the current Annotated Code of Maryland. The  2017 pocket parts should be coming soon.

Don’t forget – the Law Library is here if you have questions or would like additional information. Contact us!

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New Maryland Laws Take Effect on October 1, 2017 – Spotlight on Limitations in Cases of Child Sexual Abuse

Posted by Joan Bellistri on September 27, 2017

Untitled drawingNew Maryland laws take effect on October 1, 2017!  We will be publishing a series of posts highlighting a few of the newly enacted laws.  This series is just a small sampling of the new laws enacted by the 2017 Legislative Session.  To read about more laws resulting from the 2017 session, see the 90 Day Report – A Review of the 2017 Session published by the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) of the General Assembly of Maryland. For a full listing of new laws effective October 1, 2017, check out this publication from DLS.

“In response to growing recognition of the long-term impact of child sexual abuse the law, HB 642/CH12  (1) expands the statute of limitations for an action for damages arising out of an alleged incident or incidents of sexual abuse that occurred while the victim was a minor; (2) establishes a statute of repose for specified civil actions relating to child sexual abuse; and (3) exempts causes of action filed under the provisions of the law from the notice of claim requirement under the Local Government Tort Claims Act and the submission of a written claim requirement, denial of claim requirement, and the statute of limitations under the Maryland Tort Claims Act. An action for damages arising out of an alleged incident or incidents of sexual abuse that occurred while the victim was a minor must be filed (1) at any time before the victim reaches the age of majority or (2) within the later of 20 years after the date on which the victim reaches the age of majority or 3 years after the date that the defendant is convicted of a crime relating to the alleged incident or incidents, as specified. However, the Act specifies that in an action brought more than seven years after the victim reaches the age of majority, damages may be awarded against a person or governmental entity that is not the alleged perpetrator of the sexual abuse only if (1) the person or governmental entity owed a duty of care to the victim; (2) the person or governmental entity employed or exercised some degree of responsibility or control over the alleged perpetrator; and (3) there is a finding of gross negligence on the part of the person or governmental entity. The Act establishes a “statute of repose” that prohibits a person from filing an action more than 20 years after the date on which the victim reaches the age of majority against a person or governmental entity that is not the alleged perpetrator for damages arising out of an alleged incident or incidents of sexual abuse that occurred while the victim was a minor.” However, this new law “is not to be construed to apply retroactively to revive any action that was barred by application of the period of limitations applicable before October 1, 2003.” Previously, “an action for damages arising out of an alleged incident of sexual abuse that occurred while the victim was a minor must be filed within seven years of the date that the victim attains the age of majority.”

Passage of this law might be of interest to anyone who watched the Netflix documentary, The Keepers.  At the end there was an interview with Delegate C. T. Wilson of Charles County in which he described how he had not be able to get this bill passed over the years.  A Washington Post article in 2016 described his efforts.  However, while watching the show,  it was easy to go to the Maryland General Assembly website and search for bills introduced by Delegate Wilson in 2017 and see that he had introduced the bill again and that it had passed. Other search options include by subject and statute affected.

Note that all quotations, unless noted otherwise, are attributable to the 90 Day Report – A Review of the 2017 Session published by the Department of Legislative Services of the General Assembly of Maryland.

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New Maryland Laws Take Effect on October 1, 2017 – Spotlight on UELMA

Posted by Joan Bellistri on September 26, 2017

Untitled drawingNew Maryland laws take effect on October 1, 2017!  We will be publishing a series of posts highlighting a few of the newly enacted laws.  This series is just a small sampling of the new laws enacted by the 2017 Legislative Session.  To read about more laws resulting from the 2017 session, see the 90 Day Report – A Review of the 2017 Session published by the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) of the General Assembly of Maryland. For a full listing of new laws effective October 1, 2017, check out this publication from DLS.

UELMA (HB165\CH553 and SB137\CH554) is the Maryland Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act.  Librarians have been supporting this legislation in Maryland for three years and are excited that the third time was the charm.  Maryland is now one of 17 states, including Washington, D.C., that have adopted UELMA.

The Maryland Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act (UELMA) provides online legal material with the same level of trustworthiness traditionally provided by publication in a law book. It is the People’s insurance policy that official electronic legal materials be:

  1. authenticated, by providing a method to determine that it is unaltered;
  2. preserved, either in electronic or print form; and
  3. accessible, for use by the public on a permanent basis.

UELMA is a product of The Uniform Law Commission (ULC, also known as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws) that was established in 1892 and provides states with non-partisan, well-conceived and well drafted legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law.

As more and more legal materials are becoming digital, it is important that we are ready so that Maryland’s legal materials are preserved, accessible whether current or from years ago, and authentic. (It is easy to tell if a volume of the code is authentic but not so apparent when you look at something online.  If you look at the Government Printing Office’s United States Code online you will see a little authentication symbol  telling you that the record has been checked and it is the correct document.)  Right now Maryland’s legal materials are readily available in print, assuring authentication, preservation and accessibility.  Should any of these materials convert to digital only, Maryland is prepared.

To find out more about UELMA please read these publications available from the American Association of Law Libraries:

UNIFORM ELECTRONIC LEGAL MATERIAL ACT SUMMARY AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

UELMA HISTORY

 

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New Maryland Laws Take Effect on October 1, 2017 – Spotlight on Expungement

Posted by Joan Bellistri on September 25, 2017

Untitled drawing (1)New Maryland laws take effect on October 1, 2017!  We will be publishing a series of posts highlighting a few of the newly enacted laws.  This series is just a small sampling of the new laws enacted by the 2017 Legislative Session.  To read about more laws resulting from the 2017 session, see the 90 Day Report – A Review of the 2017 Session published by the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) of the General Assembly of Maryland. For a full listing of new laws effective October 1, 2017, check out this publication from DLS.

Although effective October 1, 2017, the Justice Reinvestment Act which made significant changes to the expungement law, was actually passed during the 2016 session.  SB1005/CH515 known as the Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA), among other things, authorized “a person to file a petition listing relevant facts for expungement of a police, court, or other record if the person is convicted of specified misdemeanors. A petition for expungement may not be filed earlier than 10 years after the person satisfied the sentence or sentences imposed for all convictions for which expungement is requested, including parole, probation, or mandatory supervision. If the person is convicted of a new crime during the 10-year waiting period, the original conviction or convictions are not eligible for expungement unless the new conviction becomes eligible. A person is not eligible for expungement if the person is a defendant in a pending criminal proceeding or if one conviction in a unit is not eligible for expungement. In general, a person must file a petition for expungement in the court in which the proceeding began. However, the bill specifies procedures for situations involving transfers to another court or the juvenile court. In addition, the bill specifies procedural requirements regarding objections to a petition, hearings, and appeals.”

Now Maryland law (codified in section 10-110 of the Criminal Procedure Article) allows for expungement of more misdemeanor convictions after a certain period of time.  WIth changes, the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) offered a webinar on expungement that covered the new and old expungement law.  Matthew Stubenberg, creator of the MDexpungement app, was the presenter.  The presentation, JRA Expungements,  is online and the full webinar will be available soon. MVLS has also posted a list online that details which offenses are eligible for expungement  under the JRA:  All Convictions Eligible Under the JRA.

New expungement forms will be made available October 1 – one for non-guilty records and one for guilty.  You can view them online now but they are not ready for use. Per Matthew:

CC-DC-CR-072 A should be used for the expungement of acquittal, dismissal, probation before judgment, nolle pros, stet, and certain not criminally responsible dispositions. There will be no filing fee for these dispositions.

 CC-DC-CR-072 B should be used for the expungement of eligible guilty dispositions. The filing fee for guilty dispositions is $30.

MVLS has provided this training to those who are interested and hope those who do will volunteer by taking a case  OR taking part in an expungement clinic

Volunteer attorneys are also needed to help with expungement at the  Anne Arundel County Homeless Resource Day which is scheduled for October 28, 2017.

To learn more about expungement and expungement resources, check out expungement on the Maryland People’s Law Library and our wiki page. In addition, the Maryland Courts website includes information on how to expunge your records and a video.

Note that all quotations, unless noted otherwise, are attributable to the 90 Day Report – A Review of the 2016 Session published by the Department of Legislative Services of the General Assembly of Maryland.  

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