“To fight it, or not to fight it.”

The state of Maryland reported issuing roughly half of a million speeding tickets in 2011 as part of the SafeZone speed camera initiative.

That is probably a half of a million times that Marylanders pondered whether or not to contest a citation. It is a scenario that Marylanders are finding themselves in more and more.  Factor in red light cameras and you can probably say “more and more” a few more times. The issue is not limited to Maryland either, people around the country are asking the question of whether or not it is worth fighting a camera traffic ticket.

The answer is probably worth discussing with an attorney. Quite simply, it depends. It depends on the state. It depends on the person. It depends on the particular citation. It depends on all of the circumstances involved.

The first matter to examine is whether the violation is under a state vehicle code or statute as opposed to an administrative violation carrying only a fine. When the penalty is only a fine, there are no points involved and the incident does not carry onto your driving record. However, should the citation be subject to particular codes or statutes it may also carry fines and points. These factors make the citation both directly and indirectly more costly. They can remain on your driving record and influence the penalties that may come with future incidents, and also potentially impact insurance rates.

In Maryland, citations produced by a traffic camera are only administrative fines that do not carry onto your driving record.

Challenging these citations in Maryland is likely going to cost the recipient more than the face value of the ticket itself. The cost of commuting to court, paying for parking, and the hours spent missing work in the process likely adds up to more than the fine in itself let alone the cost of hiring an attorney.

However, some people are fighters naturally and just want to prove a point. For those people arguing on principle alone, there actually is a number of people around the country who have defeated the system. A brief search of articles around the country shows that these tickets can be challenged under issues of calibration and hearsay.

You cannot necessarily cross examine a computer print out as if it were a live officer. However, people have challenged the calibration of the devises and put the burden on the state to provide testing and calibration records. There have been instances around the country where people challenged states and won, as well as instances where the states could not produce an argument based on lack of sufficient records or upkeep. However, it is a serious fight and a considerable financial risk.

In states such as California, where the fines are substantially higher at $500.00 a pop, this risk might be more balanced. However, in Maryland, the cost in time, missed work, parking, and aggravation probably warrants simply coughing up the $40 bucks for the ticket.


Free WIFI in Baltimore County Maryland Circuit Court

The Baltimore County Bar Association recently announced the launch of a new wireless internet network available at the Circuit Court Building in Towson. The network has been made available to the public free of cost as part of a collaborative effort between the BCBA and the Baltimore County Bar Foundation to give back to the community.

The initiative is yet another innovative example of the organizations’ commitment to the community and appreciation of the times.

Our culture continues to become increasingly dependent on technology. People rely more on the internet both personally and professionally seemingly every day. Access to wireless internet will be a tremendous resource for people, both attorneys and non-attorneys, to perform research and carry out important communications.

This is made even more valuable when considering the costs of such technology during these tough times. Anyone who pays their own cellular bill understands that fast mobile internet access is not necessarily cheap. Free Wi-Fi internet access made publically available for free to the public saves other people money that might otherwise represent the need to purchase a mobile “hot-spot” card or simply additional data usage on an existing plan.

Free internet access is helpful to attorneys to perform last minute legal research or to access Maryland Judiciary Case Search or to obtain other information for clients or potential clients. Wi-Fi access makes it easier to obtain email, retrieve documents, and perform work while waiting for hearings or waiting to be called for a jury.

It is clear that the BABC and BABF have set the stage for the next steps towards improving technological abilities in the courthouses. It will be interesting to see what response other Maryland jurisdictions and organizations will have to the continuing emergence of technology. Resources such as free Wi-Fi could are tremendous, however restrictions on usage still apply. How these restrictions factor into future technological developments within the court system is sure to be a storyline in the coming years.

Quick Evictions in Maryland

It has come to my attention that there are national companies marketing on the internet that market towards landlords to help them evict their tenants. They have catchy names and logos to capture the imagination of prospective clients that this is an easy process.

This tactic and marketing strategy may be effective in other jurisdictions, however, here in Maryland, most evictions and tenant issues can be resolved by the litigants themselves without requiring attorney intervention. The District Court of Maryland hears the majority of landlord tenant disputes in Maryland. Some counties, specifically, Montgomery County has a separate Landlord Tenant Commission to help resolve disputes between landlords and tenants prior to filing in the District Court.

While many potential litigants, both landlords and tenants may feel overwhelmed by the process and uncomfortable going to court, attorneys can be a helpful resource. However, the District Court provides a web site with links to all the necessary forms and has frequently asked questions and answers available. Click on the following link to obtain all relevant information from the District Court. This site has links for forms and simple instructions on how to complete the forms.


You may also click on this link (http://www.courts.state.md.us/district/dctcivforms.html )for access to all available forms from the District Court. Many can be downloaded in pdf format and typed on your computer and then printed while a few must be picked up for free from any District Court location.


Prior to filing a complaint, the court requires proof that any defendant is not in active military service. There is a link for the Department of Defense Manpower Data Center https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/scra/scraHome.do
This website can help determine whether someone is currently in active military service or not.


In the State of Maryland, landlord’s can file actions in rent court, a subdivision of the District Court seeking to collect unpaid rent when tenants fail to pay rent and money for damages caused by tenants when they move out. Landlords may file a complaint for failure to pay rent or for breach of lease. Prior to filing a complaint, the landlord must provide written notice to the tenant to vacate the property.

Landlords must give 30 days notice (or 14 days if there is clear and imminent danger of the tenant or person who is on property doing serious harm to themselves, other tenants, the landlord, the landlord’s property or representatives, or any other person on the property).

You must provide proof that each defendant has been served prior to a hearing being scheduled.

If you have questions regarding this process, please feel free to contact me or any other attorney or click on one of these high profile eviction companies. But remember that there is plenty of free information available from the Courts.

New Maryland No Fault Divorce Law effective October 1, 2011



Maryland currently has two “no-fault”


grounds for an absolute divorce: a mutual and


voluntary separation of one year, or a separation


of two years. As of October 1, 2011, the new


law eliminates voluntary separation as a ground


for absolute divorce and shortens the


period the parties must be living separate and apart


from two years to one year.


This is a major change in Maryland Divorce Law. It shortens


the time a spouse, who does not have an


agreement to separate or a fault ground for


divorce, has to wait for a divorce to one year


down from two years.


Maryland’s  no fault ground requires


that there be no sexual relations during the one


year separation and that both spouses live in separate


residences for the entire year.




Is the Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction Disapearing?

Co-chairmen of the White House‘s bipartisan deficit-reduction commission are ready to propose ending many popular middle-class tax breaks, including the mortgage-interest deduction.

Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson are poised to unveil their final recommendations Wednesday. Their ideas are part of controversial proposals to reduce  the U.S. government‘s debt through a combination of spending cuts and an overhaul of the tax code.

Their proposals may result in holding down the growth of the federal debt by at least $3.8 trillion by 2020, and perhaps more, the two said at a news conference. Messrs. Bowles and Simpson said their plan was preferable to a debt crisis like Europe‘s that could ensue without changes to fiscal policy.

Excerpts taken from:

Mortgage Tax Break in Crosshairs,

By DAMIAN PALETTA And JOHN D. MCKINNON of the Wall Street Journal

The Failing Foster Care System

Foster care is the temporary placement of children because of abuse, neglect, family problems, or dependency.

A child may be placed because their home is no longer safe, their parents or guardians are no longer able to provide proper care, or the child no longer has a parent or guardian to care for them. The primary goal of foster care is to return the child to its home, if possible.

There are more than 500,000 children living in foster care in the United States.

Foster care is intended to be a temporary solution for children who sufer from abuse or neglect, no longer have a parent or family capable of taking care of them, or need a temporary home. Foster homes are supposed to be a safe but temporary home for the child, with the long-term goal of fnding a permanent family and home for the child.

For more information: check out
Child Injury Laws Blog
Foster Care System Failing To Protect Those Who Need It The Most
Posted by Jonathan Rosenfeld on November 29, 2010

7,018,000 United States mortgages that are 30 or more days behind or in process of foreclosure

There are 7,018,000 mortgages in the United States that are 30 or more days delinquent or in the process of foreclosure, according to new data from Lender Processing Services (LPS).

The Florida-based analytics and technology firm offered the media a preview Friday of its September month-end mortgage performance figures, derived from the company’s loan-level database of nearly 40 million mortgage loans.

Of the more than 7 million home loans in the country currently going unpaid, 2,055,000 have already commenced foreclosure proceedings. LPS reports that
4,963,000 are in the pre-foreclosure default stages, with nearly half of these falling into the 90-plus-days delinquent bucket.
LPS’ measurement of the U.S. loan delinquency rate (loans 30 or more days past due, but not in foreclosure) rose to 9.27 percent as of the end of September. That’s a 0.6 percent increase over the previous month, but down 7.8 percent compared to last September.
The nation’s pre-sale foreclosure inventory rate stands at 3.84 percent, according to LPS’ market data – up 1.1 percent from the August reading and 3.6 percent above a year earlier.
LPS says the states with the highest percentage of non-current loans (defined as the total number of foreclosures and delinquencies as a percent of all active loans in that state) include: Florida, Nevada, Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana.
The lowest percentage of non-current loans can be found in: Montana, Wyoming, Arkansas, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
LPS will provide a more in-depth review of this data in its September Mortgage Monitor report, is scheduled for release on October 29

When to consider shared physical custody in Maryland

Under Maryland law sole physical custody becomes shared custody as the number of over nights spent with the non custodial parent exceeds 35% or 128 per year. The non custodial parent, the one who has less visitation than the primary care giving parent should make sure they have more than 128 overnights of visitation with their child after the date of separation prior to filing for shared custody.  There are two important principles the court takes into consideration when deciding a Maryland Custody Order. One is what kind of living arrangement is in the best interest of the child. The other principal is one of the factors embedded into the best interest of the child list- is maintaining the status quo and to not grant additional visitation to the non custodial parent who has not recently had a significant involvement in their child’s life. That requesting shared custody in a Maryland custody case without already exceeding 35% of the yearly overnights will be very unlikely to be granted absent testimony that questions the custodial parent’s ability to parent, discipline and care for the child. In other words, what kind of informal agreement have the parties been operating under leading up to the custody hearing and has the child been doing well under that arrangement. If yes, then more likely than not, the court will fashion a Maryland custody order according to the present arrangements.

Too many times, parents know about their equal right to the upbringing of their child, but are not aware of the best interest factors a court takes into consideration when deciding Maryland custody. Establishing and maintaining the status quo is an important factor to plan for so that your day in court will truly reflect what is in the best interest of the child, as opposed to being the result of your ignorance of the law. In the event that one parent denies visitation, or flees out of state, consult with your Maryland Child Custody attorney as to what your parental rights are in response.Finally, don’t forget to ask your Maryland custody attorney about a consent order regarding an initial custody order.

Bank of America to Postpone Foreclosure Sales in all 50 states effective Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bank of America Corp. said it is placing a moratorium on all foreclosure sales across the U.S., amid political pressure on U.S. banks to examine foreclosure-documentation problems.

The nation’s largest bank by assets is the first financial institution to stop all foreclosure sales amid revelations that the banking industry had used “robo signers,” people who sign hundreds of documents a day without reviewing their contents, when foreclosing on homes. Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Ally Financial Inc. (parent of GMAC Mortgage) last week postponed foreclosures in 23 states where a court’s approval is required to foreclosure on a home.

Bank of America also decided Friday to review the affidavits being used in foreclosure proceedings in the rest of the 50 states so the accuracy of the documents can be assessed.

Thus far “our ongoing assessment shows the basis for our past foreclosure decisions is accurate,” a Bank of America spokesman said.

The bank hasn’t halted all foreclosure proceedings, however. If a borrower is delinquent, the bank is still issuing notices of default and pursuing efforts to modify certain mortgages, the spokesman said.


This moratorium refers only to “foreclosure sales” and does not apply to the  “foreclosure process” leading up to sale.






New Child Support Guidelines

On October 1, 2010, the new child support guidelines went into effect.  The guideline amount that the custodial parent will receive has increased. This increase is not automatic. If you have a current child support order, this amount will not change unless it is modified by the court.   To modify an order, you must be able to prove there has been a material change in circumstances OTHER THAN the new law.  A material change is either an increase or decrease in either parent’s income or whether the number of over night visitation has changed significantly.