Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.

Call Toll-Free: 866-435-2795

Locally at: 410-415-9219

Category: The Best Lawyers in America 2008-2017

You Pay Peanuts You Get a Monkey

That is a phrase my former partner used years ago when he set a fee and the potential client said he or she knew a cheaper lawyer.  I started writing this a couple months ago but thought I would finish it today.  The particular case that generates this was an Ex Parte involving an allegation of Child Abuse.  The mother filed it in Somerset County as that is where it allegedly occurred.  The mother lives in Howard County.  The judge found no abuse and dismissed the Petition.  The statute allows ONLY for an appeal to be filed in the County where the original Petition was heard.  You cannot  file a valid new Petition elsewhere, only Somerset County has jurisdiction- it is in black and white in the statute.  The mother files a NEW Petition in the Circuit Court for Somerset County and it is heard and Dismissed by the trail judge as only an Appeal is allowed.  The mother then files an Appeal.  The Appeal will the be heard in Circuit Court, unless you have paid peanuts.

The mother now files a new Petition in Howard County. The mother also hires a lawyer in Howard County.   Instead of dismissing the improperly filed Howard County Petition (that is virtually verbatim of the Somerset County Petition) and taking his lazy ass to Somerset County to try the Appeal which is de novo ( meaning a new trial), he dismisses the Somerset County Appeal.   I emailed the lawyer the night before and explained the law to him and he emails back stating he did not need me to educate him.  Apparently he did.  I wanted to save my people from driving all the way from Somerset to Ellicott City. We show up and the judge dismisses the Howard County petition because she has no jurisdiction to hear it- jurisdiction is in Somerset County for the Appeal only that he dismissed! 

It gets worse, we walk out of courtroom and try to make arrangements for the return of the child, and the lawyer says he is filing a NEW PETITION based on newly discovered evidence.  Well we come back a week later and not only is there no newly discovered evidence, the evidence he claims he had was bizarre and unbelievable.  Before I could move for dismissal, he does.  All he had to do was go to Somerset County and he could have retried the Appeal with the original evidence and anything else he thought he might have.  My guess is he did not want to drive there.  He is one of the low fee advertising lawyers.  I took him to task years ago for not doing his own work and relying on the list serve to save his clients.  He even called me at home incredulous that I had given him a public spanking.  He deserved it then and deserves it now, but I will not use his name.  Just remember my former partner's admonition.   

 

DUI Dismissal in Baltimore County

Another Body cam video that added nothing for the State.  The client was charged with a DUI based upon an accident.  No one could testify if he was the driver or the passenger.  The Body Cam did not show anyone in the car after the accident.  The investigation did not reveal who was operating the vehicle at the time of the accident.  I refused a lesser offense of DWI because you can either prove it or you cannot.  The charges were dropped.

Once in the hallway waiting for the paperwork, another criminal defense lawyer came up to my client and his father.  The lawyer told the father and the client that I am the lawyer other lawyers hire when they get a DUI.  It was very nice of him to say that.  My client and his dad responded that another lawyer had referred them to me.  It is nice when one of your peers goes out of his way to compliment you. 

The Best Lawyers in America 2018

I have once agin been fortunate to make the list for the 11th straight year.  As I wrote in the past, it does not mean anything unless you do the work for each client.

Body Cam Reveals Drugs Not In Plain View

A drug charge was dismissed today because the search of the car that found the drugs was not conducted properly.  There was one Body Cams.  The first officer picked up the box with the drugs and placed it back in the car.  The second officer did not have a Body Cam and claimed he found the drugs in "plain view."  He was unaware of the Body Cam.

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Bail in 2017

The criteria for bail has been changed because Attorney General Frosh found that the system of cash bail is unfair to minorities and the poor.  Our Attorney General has been a champion for those in the State who are without power and who areb unfairly targeted, wither by the courts or big pharma, or big business.  His work to revise this system is to be commended, and as a result the Chief Judge of the District Court set forth a set of rules to be used to set bail.  The Court of Appeals followed that up with a Rule where cash is no longer king, and is a last resort.  By cash I mean having to pay a bondsman up to 10% of the bail amount.

Interestingly, there was a comfort for judges to set a high bail for serious crimes.  Telephone number size bails seemed to assuage the bench and the public.  Unless you were charged with murder or rape, you were likely to have a bail set.  If your family was fortunate to own real estate in Maryland, part or all of the bail could be posted by pledging the property.

Now that is not the case.  The way the new Rule is practiced by the bench, it is an all or nothing proposition for release.  Since if you are "entitled" to bail the least onerous conditions are to be set, Pre-Trial Release is the preferred method.  It requires monitoring by the Pre-Trial Release Division and they or the prosecutor can apply to have the release revoked for good cause.  However, if you are deemed a danger to public safety you are denied bail.  No longer is a $250,000.00 or $500,000.00 bail set to try to keep you in jail while still honoring the 8th Amendment prohibition on excessive bail.  No bail is as excessive as you can get as you cannot get out of jail.

No bail is now the rule rather than the exception.  The other day at District Court Bail Review, if the accused's crime presented a "danger" the accused was denied bail.  No matter how intrinsically shallow the evidence was in the Statement of Probable Cause, if there was a "threat to Public safety", then there was no bail.  One judge has remarked to me that either you get released on your own recognizance or you are denied bail.  There does not seem to be a middle ground.  

The change that was first advocated by the Attorney General and adopted by the Court of Appeals was and is the right thing to do.  Unfortunately it has resulted in cases of injustice because it is easier to justify keeping someone in jail as opposed to setting terms of release.

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Contact Information

  • Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.
  • 29 W. Susquehanna Avenue, Suite 700
  • Towson, Maryland 21204
  • Toll Free: 866-435-2795
  • Locally: 410-415-9219
  • Fax: 410-823-0610

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