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Criminal Law


Maryland Orthopedics, P.A. Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeons


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Owings Mills ♦ Physicians Pavillion, 10085 Red Run Blvd. 410-363-0777 Frederick ♦ 75 Thomas Johnson Drive 301-663-0009 WHEN QUALITY COUNTS


At Maryland Orthopedics PA, our physicians and staff pride themselves on their expertise with Personal Injury cases and work-related injuries covered under Worker’s Compensation. We understand the special challenges presented by industrial injuries and can provide many services such as x-ray, medications, neurological testing and physical therapy in house.


Most Appointments within 24 Hours Monday-Friday


Raymond D. Drapkin, M.D. William J. Launder, M.D. Kevin E. McGovern, M.D.


Michael A. Franchetti, M.D. Mark A. Cohen, M.D. Susan J. Liu, M.D.


Arthur E. Kurlanzik, M.D. ♦ Neurological Services


Maryland State Courts have come to the realization that Estoppel can, in the proper circumstances, render the common law rule ineffective. Te Court of Appeal slightly redirected the focus of the estoppel considerations from a determination of the merits at issue, to the defendant’s statements and legal position in the preceding criminal matter. In 1997, the Court of Appeals considered whether a guilty plea to manslaughter had preclusive effect against the defendant in a wrongful death suit. Eagan v. Calhoun, 347 Md. 72, 698 A.2d 1097 (1997). Te case is certainly more noted for the exception created to the doctrine of parent- child immunity. In resolving that issue the Court needed to address whether the killing at issue was intentional. Te prior criminal conviction was for manslaughter. Te Court affirmed the rule that the criminal conviction would not be conclusive on the issue. However, in a separate guardianship proceeding, the defendant stated that the killing at issue was intentional. When combined with the criminal conviction, the Court found that the doctrine of Estoppel by Admission precluded the defendant from claiming that the killing was anything other than intentional. Terefore, the plaintiffs were relived of that burden and the claim of parent child immunity was defeated. Te Court of Appeals focused on


46 Trial Reporter / Summer 2011


the specific nature of the position taken by the defendant in the prior litigation. Te conviction alone was not sufficient to prove the issue. In an interesting analysis of the collateral effect of a


guilty pleas as compared to a plea of nolo contendre, the Court of Appeals cited as authority, Hudson v. United States, 272 U.S. 451, 47 S.Ct. 127, 71 L.Ed. 347 (1926), to comment that a guilty plea estops a defendant from pleading or proving his or her innocence in a civil action. See Bishop v. State, 417 Md. 1, 18, 7 A.3d 1074, 1084 ( Md. 2010). Tough this particular case has not yet been cited as authority to overturn the Maryland rule, when read in conjunction with the federal case law and Eagan, it may be persuasive.


Some Practice Tips Given Maryland’s adherence to the rule that


convictions cannot be used to prove the facts of the underlying events in a subsequent civil suit, there are some basic, and profoundly easy steps that can be taken to make sure that the doctrine does not sneak up on you and ruin an otherwise very good case.


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