Monday, February 13, 2006

Martindale-Hubbell Law Digest

If you're starting out with a Maryland statute or point of law and are trying to locate a similar statute in another jurisdiction, think about using the Martindale-Hubbell's Law Digest. As the name implies, the Digest provides an overview of the current law in each of the 50 states (as well as many international jurisdictions). So...rather than running searches in that other state's code, you'll find the same information much faster using the Digest. Better yet, once you've found your reference in the Digest, you can simply follow the references to find the full text in that state's code. (Thanks to Bob Levin for reminding of this useful resource).

Friday, February 10, 2006

Spoliation As Independent Tort

A recent Daily Record article entitled ““Cleanup Wasn’t Spoliation: CSA Rejects Calls For Separate Tort” (subscription) reported on the case of Goin v. Shoppers Food Warehouse Corporation in which the plaintiff argued that, following her slip-and-fall, a Shoppers employee deliberately removed the evidence which gave rise to the fall. One of the questions raised by the case is whether one can use spoliation (destruction) of evidence as a separate tort in and of itself. This case held that no such independent cause of action exists. The Court of Special Appeals similarly refused to recognize such a tort in a 1985 case, Miller v. Montgomery County (not online). Other states have dealt with the issue differently. California was the first state to explicitly recognize spoliation as an independent tort in Smith v. Superior Court 151 Cal. App. 3d 491 (1984) (not online). For more on this issue, see “Preserving Evidence of Disaster.”

Monday, February 06, 2006

Resources From The Real Property Section of the MSBA

The Real Property Section of the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) has a number of useful publications on their website. First, the site offers a link to current County Tax Rates. The site also provides access to a document entitled “Recording Seminar” (both the 2002 and the 2004 versions) dealing with recordation issues related to real property transactions and a memo entitled “Like-Kind and Reverse Like-Kind Exchanges.” The site also provides summaries of recent cases and legislation relevant to real estate attorneys in Maryland.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Banks As Real Estate Developers

Today’s Daily Record featured an article entitled “Realtors Fearful As Banks Move Into Real Estate Development” (subscription) discussing recent interpretive letters issued by the Office of The Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) permitting banks to get involved in the real estate sales and development market. Critics argue such a move would give banks a monopoly on the real estate market. The OCC’s four Interpretive Letters, published in December of 2005, feature two previously unpublished letters from 1993 (Interpretive Letter 1042 and 1043) and two from ’05 (Interpretive Letter 1044 and 1045).

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Is Using Your Cell Phone While Driving Illegal In MD?

Maybe not quite yet, but we may be heading there. The Sun reported today on a new bill pending in the MD General Assembly that would make using your cell phone while driving illegal in Maryland. In fact, the bill, HB 30, not only outlaws cell phone use while driving but outlaws any distractive activity while driving, including reading, writing, personal grooming, ect. This bill has been introduced before but has died every time. A similar law was enacted in 2004 in DC (enacted at 50 DC Code 1731; online but not linkable--see this site under heading "DC Official Code"), but that law defined "distracted activity" more narrowly, as applying solely to using your cell phone. See this article for more on that law.