Posted On: April 29, 2009

Father and Son DUI Charges

From the York Daily Record comes a story of a father and son arrested for DUI not just on the same night, but at the same time.

According to details from the Daily Record, a state trooper stopped a Pennsylvania man. While the officer questioned the driver, the driver’s son appeared on the scene to check up on his father. As a result, the trooper arrested both the father and son on drunk driving charges.

The law enforcement departments of every state take drunk driving seriously. From a law enforcement standpoint, DUI arrests give the perception of cracking down on DUI, which makes good headlines and good political sense. Unfortunately, in the rush to come down hard on DUI drivers, the police can sometimes push the envelope of legal investigative and arrest powers. While the police are winning political points, they may also violate the rights of ordinary citizens.

Continue reading " Father and Son DUI Charges " »

Posted On: April 27, 2009

Zero Tolerance Drug Policies and the Next Generation

In a recent article from the Washington Post, columnist Marc Fisher discussed the confusion and anger that parents are expressing over Zero Tolerance drug policies at Maryland schools. The latest debate surrounds the plight of a Fairfax County junior who committed suicide when faced with possible expulsion over a violation of the school system’s zero tolerance drug policy.

Zero tolerance movements have gained popularity in various sectors of everyday life over the last two decades. The popularity of these tough movements seems to stem from how easy they are for politicians to sell to the public. School districts in particular love zero tolerance policies because they allow the administration to point to the one-size fits all rules and declare that “they are doing something about the problem.”

Continue reading " Zero Tolerance Drug Policies and the Next Generation " »

Posted On: April 23, 2009

Natasha Richardson’s Tragic Death Emphasizes the Significance of Estate Plans and Wills

According to a report, Natasha Richardson, 45, was laid to rest at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lithgow, New York on March 22, 2009. Ms. Richardson’s unexpected death resulted from a fall during a beginner skiing lesson. After suffering an epidural hematoma- an accumulation of blood between the brain and skull- the Tony Award-winning actress was taken off life support, a painful decision made by her family. Ms. Richardson was married to actor Liam Neeson and she leaves two children, Micheal, 13, and Daniel, 12.

Given that Natasha Richardson’s family barely had any time to prepare for her death, the emotional pain and loss of such a close family member makes it almost impossible to even think about a will or estate plan; as it is for families throughout the U.S. enduring the abrupt death of a loved one. Not enough of us arrange preparations for our children and our spouse should something catastrophic happen. It is in everyone’s best interest to have an updated estate plan and will to prevent the possibility of lengthy and unnerving legal battles between family members.

Continue reading " Natasha Richardson’s Tragic Death Emphasizes the Significance of Estate Plans and Wills " »

Posted On: April 14, 2009

Anne Arundel Car Accident Kills Woman

The Baltimore Sun reports in a story that a rear-end collision sparked a chain reaction automobile crash in Maryland that resulted in a fire and fatality in Anne Arundel County.

On March 4, 2009, a rear-end car collision on East Ordnance Road in Glen Burnie sent one of the vehicles across the center lines of the roadway and into the path of a garbage truck headed the opposite direction. After impact, the car and garbage truck burst into flames. The driver of the car, 33-year-old Christine Schoppert, died of injuries sustained in the truck accident in Maryland.

Lavelas Luckey, a Coast Guard officer who was on his way to work, rescued the driver’s 5-year-old daughter from the burning wreckage of the vehicles. As of this writing, she is undergoing treatment at John’s Hopkins Pediatric Trauma Center for “life-threatening injuries,” according to the Sun story.

Continue reading " Anne Arundel Car Accident Kills Woman " »

Posted On: April 9, 2009

Cumberland Second-Degree Murder Charges Against Former Teacher

The Baltimore Sun reports in an article that former middle school teacher Cory Yantz, 37, of Cumberland, MD, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. The charges stem from the stabbing death of Yantz’s wife, 34-year-old Tanya Yantz, who was killed last August.

In order to understand the difference between first and second degree murder in Maryland, a close reading of the statutes governing first degree murder is required. Maryland retains an older distinction between first and second degree murder which dates from United States common law. A murder is in the first degree if it meets at least one of the following four criteria:

Continue reading " Cumberland Second-Degree Murder Charges Against Former Teacher " »

Posted On: April 7, 2009

Death Penalty Debate Set for Maryland Senate

On Tuesday, March 3, 2009, the Maryland Senate voted to open a full debate into the issue of capital punishment in the state, reports the Baltimore Sun in an article.

Under pressure from capital punishment opponent Governor Martin O’Malley, the senate first voted to turn down a measure presented by the Judicial Proceedings Committee to retain the right to administer capital punishment in certain cases. After defeating the measure by a narrow margin, the senate tallied votes to open a debate on the death penalty. The future of the debate hinged on a single vote, with a final of 24 in favor of the debates and 23 opposing.

The United States Supreme Court removed the death penalty from Maryland’s slate of punishments in 1972 in the wake of Furman v. Georgia. Six years later, the Maryland legislature passed new laws permitting capital punishment that met the Supreme Court’s definitions of fairness.

Continue reading " Death Penalty Debate Set for Maryland Senate " »

Posted On: April 2, 2009

Baltimore Shooting Puts Man in Critical Condition

In the rundown of the Baltimore police blotter for March 10, 2009, the Baltimore Sun notes in an account that a 19-year-old northeastern Baltimore man is in critical condition after being shot in the face during the early morning hours of March 9, 2009. Currently, the Maryland assault with a firearm case is under investigation, and no charges have been filed.

Given the limited amount of information available, should an arrest be made, felony assault with a firearm charges seem likely. Felony assault in Maryland is the attempt to intentionally cause serious harm to another, successful or not. In this case, the victim received injuries severe enough to warrant hospitalization, so the possibility of the state tendering second-degree assault charges is very remote, especially since those injuries were inflicted using a firearm. In Maryland, felony first-degree assault carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years.

Continue reading " Baltimore Shooting Puts Man in Critical Condition " »