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Recent notable appellate opinions

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The Bill of Rights. (From the public domain.)

Here are some recent notable appellate opinions:

1. D.C. v. Marc Jones, No. 06-CV-23 (D.C., March 29, 2007) – Conferring absolute immunity on ex-mayor Anthony Williams in a libel suit for having said that the plaintiff had been placed on administrative leave for improper fundraising.

2. Although not a new case, Maryland v. Pringle, 540 U.S. 366 (2003), confirms that the “substance of all the definitions of probable cause is a reasonable ground for belief of guilt.”

3. Fausto Ediburto Solorzano v. Maryland, Court of Appeals 2006 Term, No. 93. Confirms that ambiguities in guilty plea agreements must be resolved in favor of the defendant.

4. Garrison Thomas v. State of Maryland, Court of Appeals 2006 Term, No. 59. Affirms conviction where the jury was informed that the defendant originally physically struggled against a blood test ordered by a search warrant in conjunction with a murder investigation. The Court said: "Simply because there is a possibility that there exists some innocent, or alternate, explanation for the conduct does not mean that the proffered evidence is per se inadmissible. If it was the position of petitioner that he feared needles, or that the drawing of blood violated some religious belief he held, or any other innocent e xplanation for his con duct, it was incumbent upon him to generate that issue. He had the opportunity at trial to offer alternative theories explaining his resistance to the blood test." So much for the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

5. Maurice Galen Hunter v. Maryland, Court of Appeals 2006 Term, No. 63. Holds that a retrial may be necessary when the prosecutor repeatedly asks the defendant (after the defendant waives the right to remain silent) whether certain prosecution witnesses are lying.

6. Thompson v. Maryland, 393 Md. 291 (2006). Grants retrial, because the trial court impropertly gave the jury a flight instruction, even though defendant could have been running from cops to conceal drugs on him, rather than fleeing as a result of involvement in a recent robbery attempt. Jon Katz.