Contested Judicial Elections

The primary election date is Tuesday April 26, 2016.

In Maryland, qualified lawyers may run for judge of the Circuit Court in an election.  All Circuit Court Judges appointed by the Governor must stand for election at the first election cycle after their appointment and again every 15 years.  In most counties, the sitting Judges run with no opposition and any vote for the judge is simply to retain the judge.

This year, there is a hotly contested judicial election in Baltimore City.  Six sitting judges are running against a City Councilman, Jim Kraft, and a Public Defender, Todd Oppenheim.

The six sitting judges are:  Judge Audrey J.S. Carrion, Judge Wanda Keyes Heard, Judge Karen C. Friedman, Judge Michael A. DiPietro, Judge Cynthia H. Jones, and Judge Shannon E.Avery.

Should we have Judicial Elections?

There are strong opinions as to whether we should have contested elections for judges in Maryland.   Those against judicial elections believe that judges should be above politics and they worry that a judge’s neutrality may be compromised by campaign donations from the lawyers that appear before them. Critics also worry that Judge’s taking a “position” on an issue may preclude the judge from dispassionately deciding a case.  The strongest argument against judicial elections is that the judges are vetted through a nominating process that presents the best candidates to the Governor for appointment.

Those arguing for contested elections often cite the ability of minorities and women to run and win these elections, as was the case of William H. “Billy” Murphy, Jr. in the election of 1980. Others argue that elections force the candidates  to become more connected to their constituents by campaigning in communities they may not otherwise visit. The candidates for judge will therefore meet the people they serve on their terms.  The community connection allows individuals that will be subject to a judge’s rulings to meet a potential judge or sitting judge in an informal setting rather than for the first time in a courtroom.

Marc Steiner of the Steinershow recently had the six sitting judges on his program.  There was a fascinating discussion about the role of a Circuit Court Judge in our government and each of the judges described their experience during the campaign.  It is a glimpse into our legal system that many Baltimore City residents never see and it is definitely worth a listen.

Whatever your position, now is your opportunity to participate in government by voting and choosing those who implement our government and hold our most cherished rights in their hands.

Disclaimer: David D. Nowak, Esq. is a family law attorney practicing in Baltimore City and surrounding counties.  He has appeared and argued cases before many of the sitting judges while they were in the family law rotation for divorce, custody, child support and alimony.  Additionally, David D. Nowak, was a judicial intern for Judge Wanda Keyes Heard.


Attorney’s Fees

Can I get attorney’s fees from my spouse in a divorce?

Yes.  Maryland law allows either party to request that the other party pay their attorney’s fees and costs to pursue or defend a divorce case, an alimony case, a case involving the division of marital property and in child support cases.

In virtually all of these types of cases a judge may, but is not required to, award attorney’s fees and costs after determining the following:

  1. The financial resources and financial needs of both parties; and
  2. Whether there was substantial justification for prosecuting or defending the proceeding.
If a court finds that there was an absence of substantial justification of a party for prosecuting or defending the proceeding, and absent a finding by the court of good cause to the contrary, the court shall award to the other party the reasonable and necessary expense of prosecuting or defending the proceeding.

Reasonableness of Fee

A court may only award attorney’s fees that are reasonable.  Your attorney will be able to better explain how a court determines the reasonableness of a fee but it is a required finding prior to award attorney’s fees.

Costs and Expenses

A court may also award costs and expenses in a case.  Typical costs and expenses include:

  • The filing fee
  • The fee for service on the other side charged by the Sheriff or a private process server
  • The costs of hiring an expert
  • Other costs such as postage, copies, and supplies required to pursue the case.

You should consider requesting attorney’s fees in your case however most attorneys will require you to continue to pay your own fees as the case progresses as an award of attorney’s fees and costs as a court may not award either side attorney’s fees at the conclusion of the case.

Contact Baltimore Divorce attorney David D. Nowak at 443-470-9071

As always, the information on this site is for information purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Each case is different and you should contact an experienced attorney for legal advice.


Baltimore Prenuptial Agreement

There are many reasons to consider entering into a prenuptial agreement prior to your wedding.  A Baltimore Prenuptial Agreement lawyer can help explain the reasons for a prenuptial agreement and whether it is a good fit for your situation.

Some common questions are:

How do I protect my premarital assets during a marriage and in the event of divorce?

How can I avoid a costly and contentious divorce like my parents experienced?

How can I make sure I am protected in case of divorce but I haven’t worked during the marriage?

These questions have important answer and if you are asking these question than a consultation with a Baltimore prenuptial lawyer may be right for you.

Maryland Prenuptial Agreements

Maryland does not have a uniform prenuptial or premarital agreement statute addressing prenuptial agreements.  Until 1984, prenuptial agreements were frowned upon by Maryland Courts.  However, Maryland family law now allows people before and after marriage to enter into enforceable agreements (contracts) to resolve their issues especially property distribution, alimony and attorney’s fees.

It is important that each potential spouse consult with a lawyer to review the prenuptial agreement prior to signing.

Under Maryland Law a court will evaluate the validity of prenuptial agreement.  Generally, the test that a Maryland Court will apply to uphold or overturn the agreement is” whether there was overreaching, that is, whether in the atmosphere and environment of the confidential relationship there was unfairness or inequity in the result of the agreement or in its procurement. Frank, full and truthful disclosure of what is being relinquished (or in lieu thereof actual knowledge otherwise available or obtained) is the key that turns the lock of the door leading to impregnable validity.” Harbom v. Harbom, 134 Md. App. 430, 741 (2000)

Usually, if each party is represented and fully advised of their rights, courts will uphold an otherwise valid Maryland prenuptial agreement.

To ensure that the prenuptial agreement is valid and enforceable it is a good idea to call a Baltimore prenuptial agreement lawyer to draft and explain the law to you.  A person should never sign a prenuptial agreement without first consulting with a lawyer because of the many rights you may be giving up that you did not know you had or did not care to consider at this time in your life.

Contact a Baltimore prenuptial agreement lawyer David D. Nowak 443-470-9071

Each case is different so you should consult an attorney to receive legal advice for your specific situation.  This post is for general legal information and is not legal advice.


A post from our other site

Police Made One Pot Arrest every 42 seconds in 2012

It’s hard to believe that police in the United States are making an arrest for pot possession every 42 seconds.  That means police are spending time making criminals out of usually non-violent drug offenders rather than focusing on other more serious crimes.

In Baltimore, the pot arrest rate has not decreased and marijuana possession charges in Baltimore have actually increased.  It is hard to justify the costs to society by spending police and court resources on marijuana charges.  Not to mention the costs of criminalizing millions in our society and hampering their ability to get student loans, government assistance, and jobs with security clearances.

According to US News and World Report Most marijuana-related arrests were for possession of the drug. By mere possession, there was one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds in 2012. Including arrests for distribution, there was a pot-related arrest every 42 seconds, the same interval as in 2011. “Each one of those arrests is the story of someone who may suffer a variety of adverse effects from their interaction with the justice system,” said LEAP Executive Director Neill Franklin, a former Maryland policeman, in a statement. “Commit a murder or a robbery and the government will still give you a student loan. Get convicted for smoking a joint and you’re likely to lose it.”

I was not surprised by this article as the documentary  The House I Live In  explores the societal costs of enforcing the drug war, and investigates the intrenched interests that keep the drug war alive such as the private prison industry.   Everyone should watch this eye opening expose on our Drug War and Drug warriors. In Maryland, legislation to legalize marijuana passed in the Senate, but did not pass the House.  Even though Maryland is liberal in many ways, we still have a long way to go until a person in Baltimore can use legal marijuana and not have to call a criminal defense drug lawyer for a pot arrest.

David D. Nowak, Esq.

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Dr. Levy Lawsuit

Many of you have heard the news that a prominent John’s Hopkins gynecologist Dr. Nikita Levy is accused of serious misconduct.  He is accused of recording patients during their gynecological exams with a number of recording devices, including a pin sized camera on a pen he wore around his neck.     Apparently, Dr. Levy conducted many of his exams without a chaperone that could have helped protect the patient, Johns Hopkins, and even Dr. Levy himself.  It is a policy of Johns Hopkins to have a chaperone present during pelvic exams.,0,2900907.story 

If the reports are accurate, Dr. Levy most likely has hundreds of victims that he recorded and there is a possibility that those recordings have been downloaded to various internet websites.  These types of actions violate the patient’s privacy, protected healthcare information, and can lead to trauma, stress and apprehension of seeking certain medical treatments.

If you, or someone you care about, was a patient of Dr. Levy give me a call to discuss your legal options.  The full scope of Dr. Levy’s actions has not been fully investigated, but in time, we will have a clearer picture of the number of victims and the human cost of this Doctor’s betrayal.

I know many of my clients have already asked me if the Law Office of David D. Nowak, LLC handles medical malpractice cases.  The short answer is that I do not regularly advertise my services for medical malpractice.  For this case though, I am working with a team of attorneys investigating Dr. Levy, and my experience as a litigator will help our team determine the damages and the recovery patients may be entitled to.  We have already interviewed a number of Dr. Levy’s patients and we are looking for more people that may be victims of this doctor.  Even if you, your sister, mother, daughter, wife or friend only went to Dr. Levy once, you owe it to yourself to find out whether you have a claim.

What do Pot, Facebook, Fantasy Football and Scooters have in Common?

Answer: NEW LAWS! It’s already October 2012!  Where has the time gone?  Well October 1, 2012 means many new laws go into effect in Maryland.  Here are a few notable changes to our laws:

  1. Marijuana: For people possessing less than 10 grams of Marijuana the maximum penalty is now 90 days in jail and/or a fine of $500.   That’s down from 1 year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine for possession.
  2. Fantasy Football:  Fantasy games such as Fantasy Football are excluded from the list of games that Marylanders are prohibited from betting, wagering and gambling on.
  3. Facebook:  Employers are prohibited from requesting employees’ or potential employees’ user names and passwords for their social medial accounts.
  4. Scooters and Mopeds:  Owners operators will have to have a registration decal on the vehicle, and operators must wear protective helmets and eye wear.
  5. Non-Functioning Traffic Lights: Drivers approaching a non-functioning traffic signal from any direction must stop and make sure it is safe to continue through the intersection.

And there are several ballot measures that citizens will be voting on this election, so if you weren’t planning on voting on any candidates, you may want to vote on the following ballot measures:

  1. Allowing same sex marriage in Maryland
  2. An expansion of Maryland’s gambling laws to include table games
  3. A vote on Maryland’s legislative redistricting and
  4. The Dream Act – whether the children of illegal of immigrants will be eligible for instate tuition at Maryland Colleges and Universities if they meet certain standards.

It was a busy year for the Maryland State Legislature and the Governor.  You can always count on the Law Office of David D. Nowak, LLC to be up-to-date on changes to the law.  For more information go to