Maryland Attorney General's Office Wins National Supreme Court "Best Brief" Awards

July 13, 1999

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his office has received two of the five national "Best Brief Awards" issued by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). For the last seven years, NAAG has given out Best Brief Awards in recognition of excellence in brief writing in the U.S. Supreme Court by state attorneys. Of the five awards given this year, Curran's office received two of them, one for a Brief on Merits in the case of Wilson v. Layne and another for an. Amicus Brief in the case of Alden v. Maine

"This is quite an honor," said Attorney General Curran, who has personally argued and won two cases before the Supreme Court. "We have always been extremely proud of our work before the U.S. Supreme Court - these awards confirm that we have some of the best attorneys in the nation."

The Merits Brief in Wilson v. Layne addressed the issue of whether Montgomery County law enforcement officers acted reasonably under the circumstances when they allowed members of the media to accompany them inside a private home during the execution of an arrest warrant. Though the Court ultimately ruled that such "ride-alongs" are now unconstitutional, the Brief helped convince eight of the justices that the officers in this case were entitled to qualified immunity since the law at the time of the incident was not clearly established.

The Amicus Brief in Alden v. Maine argued in favor of a State's right not to be sued in its own courts without its consent. That right, Curran contended, was a basic attribute of State sovereignty when the Constitutional was ratified and was made an explicit part of our national framework when the Eleventh Amendment was adopted. In ruling on the case, the Supreme Court agreed that Congress lacks the authority under Article I of the Constitution to usurp what is and always has been an inviolable element of State independence and integrity.

The Merits Brief was written by Deputy Attorney General Carmen Shepard, Larry-Fletcher Hill, head of Civil Litigation,, and Assistant Attorneys General Andrew Baida and J.B. Howard. The Amicus Brief was written by Andrew Baida.

The remaining awards were given to Attorneys General in Maine, Arizona, and Ohio.

For Further Information Contact:
Frank Mann
Special Assistant to the Attorney General
(410) 576-6357