May 17, 2024 - by Colleen Aracri

Gain Insight on the 2024 Legislative Session from Maryland Delegates During Legal Summit

On May 6, 2012, Katherine Morris was found dead in her car in the Anne Arundel Mills mall parking lot. The police quickly determined Morris died by suicide via carbon monoxide inhalation. Morris’s parents, however, were not convinced that Morris, a 21-year-old student at the University of Maryland, ended her own life. They subsequently embarked on a journey to uncover the details regarding what happened to their daughter. There was little movement in the case until 2021, when an administrative judge ruled that due to inconsistencies during the investigation, the manner of Morris’s death on her death certificate should be changed to undetermined. The victory was bittersweet, though, as police declined to reopen the case.

Inspired by Morris’s story, Delegate Sandy Bartlett, Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced HB969 during the 2024 legislative session, in hopes of increasing accountability and transparency regarding the determination of an individual’s cause of death and subsequent changes. Known as the Katherine Morris Death Reclassification Act, HB969 requires that a police investigation remain open for 20 years after the cause and manner of death is changed to homicide or undetermined. The bill passed, and Governor Moore signed it into law on May 16, 2024. It will go into effect on October 1, 2024.

Delegate Bartlett will discuss HB969, along with other bills during The House Legislative Plenary, which will be held on Friday, June 7, 2024, at 11:00 am, during MSBA’s 2024 Legal Summit. The session will also feature Delegates Luke Clippinger, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Nicole Williams and Jon Cardin, both of whom are members of the House Judiciary Committee, who will offer insight into numerous bills proposed during the 2024 legislative session and the ramifications they could have on the profession.

In addition to learning more about HB969, participants should expect to hear discussions on HB476, which modified the law to allow for the use of certain genetic DNA analysis and searches to identify a deceased or missing person.

The Delegates will likely touch on important measures that were introduced but did not pass as well, including HB0048, which sought to modify the law surrounding judicial retention and election, but ultimately stalled, and HB73, a bill that aimed to amend certain provisions of Maryland law regarding expungements.

You can learn more about the education and networking opportunities available at MSBA’s 2024 Legal Summit and register to attend here.