Trials and court hearings, in some ways, can be like sporting competitions. Both litigation and sports have their own sets of rules. Some of these rules may seem excessively technical and unnecessary, but they are the rules, and you overlook them at your peril. For example, the rules of civil cases say that generally, if you want the judge to order a particular outcome, you must expressly ask for it in your court pleading documents (meaning your complaint if you are the petitioner or your answer or counter-complaint if you are the respondent.) In the case of one Maryland husband, his failure to follow this rule cost him the opportunity to obtain his part of the marital portion of his wife’s retirement benefits, according to Court of Special Appeals decision.
Recently, a client retained our services to assist with a serious criminal matter in which he was being investigated. The day before he came to our office desperately seeking our help, he had received a telephone call from the Montgomery County Police Department (“MDPD”) and the officer informed him that he was being investigating for having committed sexual abuse many years earlier.
Not knowing what the officer was talking about and fearing the repercussions if he said the wrong thing, the client refused to discuss the alleged incident without speaking to a criminal defense attorney first.
Upon being retained, this case became top priority. Our criminal defense attorneys immediately contacted the investigating officer to discuss the status of the investigation. The officer was preparing the necessary paperwork to immediately charge the client with sexual offense in the third degree.
Our office was recently retained by a client who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the potential consequences she faced were far more serious than a $25,000.00 fine and 4 years in jail.
This client was originally from the Dominican Republic and was a Legal Permanent Resident (also known as a green card holder). Although she had been in the US for many years, she was unable to find steady full time employment. Her only source of income for the past several months was the money she had earned babysitting.
One day an acquaintance offered to pay her to come and clean his house and the client jumped at the chance to earn a little extra money to take care of her children. When the client got to the house, she realized that she was going to need more cleaning supplies so the owner of the house went to purchase what she needed while she stayed there and continued working.
Family law cases regarding child custody frequently turn on the best interests of the child. While parents have a Fourteenth Amendment right to raise their children without the State’s interference, this isn’t an absolute right. It must be balanced against society’s responsibility towards the child’s welfare.
In Maryland, the court designates children who are abused or neglected by their parents or have a disability that their parents are not able to attend to, social services may ask the juvenile court to designate them “children in need of assistance” or “CINA”. The court must make factual findings as to whether the allegations of social services are correct and determine a course of action to protect the child.
If the child is to be placed outside the home, within 11 months, the court must determine what the permanent plan for the child is. This could be reunification, but it could also be another permanent living situation such as adoption, if that is in the child’s best interests. While Maryland prefers family reunification, it is not always possible.