---::--- Findings ---::---
From Maryland's First Legal Resource

---::--- Volume 4, Number 2, Spring 2009 ---::---


A Publication of the Maryland State Law Library
In This Issue:

Locating Newly-Enacted Maryland Legislation

By Steve Anderson

For researchers of current Maryland law, the summer months occasionally present a few challenges. Of course, few people whose work necessitates indoor study seldom can resist the occasional attraction of the pool or beach. However, there's a structural issue to remember, as well. Legislation enacted by the General Assembly during the Spring has a range of effective dates: April, June 1st, July 1st, October 1st, and even the following January. Because pocket part supplements for Maryland Code volumes--and integrated updates to the Code in legal databases--are not available until mid-September, researchers sometimes have to find new laws that are not yet incorporated into the Code.

Fortunately, the General Assembly's own website has useful information for this interim update period. The site's Legal and Legislative Reports and Publications page is a comprehensive list of many resources, including links to pages containing information on Effective Dates of Enacted Legislation for the five latest Regular Sessions. The site hosts several documents that are helpful to legal researchers in need of the most current legislation for 2009: a list of Emergency Bills, a list of legislation effective June 1st, a list of legislation effective July 1st, and a master list of all legislation with corresponding effective dates.

For those interested in a general overview of legislation passed during the session, the General Assembly site offers the "90 Day Report," organized by topic. Researchers also may find the weekly Legislative Wrap-up to be quite useful. Of course, the site provides a list of all bills signed or vetoed by the Governor (or enacted without his signature).

It is worth noting that enacted legislation is designated by a chapter number, assigned in consecutive order upon signing or enactment. The chapter number is different from the House or Senate bill number, but cross-reference tables exist both for 2009 and for prior sessions, beginning in 1996.

If you have access to a print version of Michie's Annotated Code of Maryland (published by LexisNexis), you also may have access by now to the Maryland Advance Legislative Service. This accompanying publication, which is sold independently of the Code, has enacted chapters in print form. Users of the LexisNexis database have access to this Service (in files MDCODE and MDALS). Searching this Service is one of the better ways to ensure that research is up-to-date. Additionally, the Department of Legislative Services publishes the Laws of Maryland, which comprise the State's session laws, later in the year.

If you have any questions regarding the updating of recent Maryland legislation, please contact the Library.


By Mary Jo Lazun

WiFi and New Databases at the State Law Library

The Maryland State Law Library now offers free WiFi access throughout the library. The connection is secure and encrypted. Signing on is easy--just pick up the current password at the information desk. Many of the library's databases, like HeinOnline, Index to Legal Periodicals, LegalTrac, can be accessed through the WiFi. See this page for a list.

The Library now offers patrons free access to RIA Checkpoint's Estate Planning Library from its public computers. Also new is SASI-CALC, a tool used to calculate child support.

The Library will migrate its current CCH subscriptions for Business, Human Resources, and Tax to the new IntelliConnect platform as soon as it is available, perhaps by the time you read this. Access to IntelliConnect will be accessible via WiFi and the public computers. The Library also has access to Academic Search Complete, a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary database of journal articles, which will be useful in researching law-related matters addressed in social science literature. It also can be used via the library's WiFi connection.

For more information on what is available online at Maryland State Law Library, contact Mary Jo Lazun at mjlazun@mdcourts.gov or call the information desk at 410-260-1430.

Just a reminder--the Maryland State Law Library is open Tuesday and Thursday evenings as well as Saturdays.

Exploring the State Law Library's Microfilm and Microfiche Collection

By Maureen Della Barba

One of our many collections in the State Law Library that shouldn’t be overlooked is our set of microfilm and microfiche materials. The staff at the Library understands microfilm and microfiche can be tedious to work with, but it is a stable archival format that is still being used. Our staff is more than happy to help customers with the microfilm/microfiche readers. We have an abundance of historical information that is very helpful to all types of researchers. Here is a list of the collection’s historical holdings:

  • Baltimore Sun dated from 1846 to present
  • Annapolis Capital dated from 1981 to present
  • Maryland Gazette dated back to 1745
  • Census Reports dated back to 1850
  • Daily Record dated from 1888 to present
  • Baltimore City Directory from 1833 to 1881 (some from 1900 and 1930)
  • Maryland Republican from 1809 to 1886

On the legal side of the spectrum, we have legislative, judicial and executive information on microfilm and microfiche that is very helpful to law students, lawyers and law clerks. Here is a list of these legal titles:

  • Maryland Court of Appeals Briefs and records extracts dated from 1980 to 2007
  • Maryland Court of Special Appeals Briefs and record extracts dated from 1979 to 2006
  • Unreported Opinions dated from 1988 to present
  • Rules Committee Meeting Minutes dated from 1946 to present
  • General Assembly Bill Files dated from 1976 to 1996 (some 1997)
  • Attorney General Opinions dated 1980 to present
  • Maryland Bar Journal, 1998 to present
  • Senate and House Journals some 1700’s and 1800’s
  • Federal Register, 1936 to 2008

As you can see we have some very useful information for legal professionals, genealogists and the general public. The Library staff welcomes you to come in and utilize this wealth of information.

Post-Conviction Practice Resources at the State Law Library

By Rudolf B. Lamy

There are many aspects to the practice of criminal law that any and all criminal attorneys must become fully acquainted with.  Not the least of which are those of post-conviction procedures and remedies. In fact, hundreds of post-conviction proceedings are filed in Circuit Courts and in the Court of Special Appeals every year. It would seem then, that the practice of criminal law in Maryland requires, at the very least, a working knowledge of the rules and statutes that govern post-conviction relief proceedings.

The dictionary definition of such a proceeding is quite simple: “A state or federal procedure for a prisoner to request a court to vacate or correct a conviction or sentence,” (Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th ed., 2004). In reality, the practice of post-conviction legal procedures is never quite so simple as the dictionary would imply. 

Post-conviction claims may be based on either constitutional or statutory claims. In Maryland, “Under the Uniform Post Conviction Procedure Act, any person convicted of a crime and either incarcerated under sentence of death or imprisonment or on parole or probation… may institute a proceeding in the Circuit Court for the county to set aside or correct the sentence, provided that the alleged error has not been previously and finally litigated or waived.” (7A Maryland Law Encyclopedia – Criminal Law, 426, p. 501). The “Uniform Postconviction Procedure Act,” can be found in the Annotated Code of Maryland, Criminal Procedure Article,  7-101 et seq.  A comment in the Maryland Law Encyclopedia (see above, p. 502) states that “[t]he provisions of the Maryland Post Conviction Procedure Act are virtually identical with those of the Uniform Post Conviction Procedure Act.” Post-conviction procedures also are included in Chapter 400 of the Maryland Rules (Rules 4-401 through 4-408).

Using the resources of the Maryland State Law Library, the post-conviction researcher or first-time practitioner can find important secondary sources for information on post-conviction issues in Maryland. There are, of course, the sections on the subject in the aforementioned Maryland Law Encyclopedia.  Additionally, the Library possesses “A Post Conviction Handbook for Circuit Court Judges,” written by Stran Funk and published by the Maryland Judicial Institute. The Library has editions of this treatise from 1999 through 2008.

Also available are those post-conviction resources that are not Maryland-specific, but which still may be used by Maryland attorneys for general research.  There are encyclopedic sources, such as: “American Jurisprudence 2d,” vol. 75B, Part XII “Post Trial Matters” 1649-1661; the "American Law Reports," the index for which has a heading for “Postconviction Proceedings and Remedies” covering at least a dozen major entries; and the “Eleventh Decennial Digest (2004-2007)," for which the Descriptive Word Index lists “Postconviction relief” with approximately 50 major entries.

The Library's online catalog lists several texts and treatises that relate to post-conviction relief, including::

  • “Another Bite at the Apple: a Guide to Section 2255 Motions for Federal Prisoners,”
    by Janice Bergman (Chicago: ABA, 2009)
  • “Post-conviction Remedies in a Nutshell” by Robert Popper (St. Paul: West, 1978)
  • “Postconviction Remedies” (Rochester, NY: Lawyers Co-Operative, 1981)
  • “Postconviction DNA Testing: Recommendations for Handling Requests”
    (Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1999)

In addition to these hardcopy resources, the Library provides FREE public access to the LEXIS database. (Using a LEXIS “Terms and Connectors” search, 1251 case “hits” were found on post-conviction issues, dated between January and May of 2009, and another 1700 “hits” were found in the LEXIS law reviews and journals database.)

The Library also offers both document delivery and interlibrary loan services, which can make post-conviction material in other libraries readily available to our customers.

New Web-based Legal Resources: Summer Picks

By Katherine Baer

Legal Scholarly Works Available in Condensed Form:

The Legal Workshop is a website that provides content of scholarly legal articles in versions that are written for the general audience.  There are currently seven law review members including Cornell Law Review and Georgetown Law Journal.  The content undergoes a strict editing process and is updated at least weekly. Visit: http://legalworkshop.org/

For those who can’t get enough... about Abraham Lincoln

The Library of Congress has digitized and made available several older publications by and about Lincoln.  They include his time as a lawyer, habeas corpus and the war powers of the President and the assassination trials. Visit: http://www.loc.gov/law/help/rare-books/lincoln.php

Corporate Counsel References:

The Association of Corporate Counsel has a quick reference guide under its legal resources page that includes a large variety of charts, checklists and forms.  The subject areas range from Internal Trademark Usage Guidelines to Arbitration Resources.  There is an advanced search function that allows for narrower searching. Visit: http://www.acc.com/legalresources/quickreferences/index.cfm