Lloyd v. Board of Sup'rs of Elections of Baltimore County

Decision Date16 December 1954
Docket NumberNo. 22,22
Citation206 Md. 36,111 A.2d 379
PartiesLeo E. LLOYD v. BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF ELECTIONS OF BALTIMORE COUNTY.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Leo E. Lloyd, in pro. per.

Ambrose T. Hartman, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Edward D. E. Rollins, Atty. Gen., W. Giles Parker, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Philip F. Bennett, Baltimore, on the brief), for appellee.

Before BRUNE, C. J., and DELAPLAINE, COLLINS, HENDERSON and HAMMOND, JJ.

HAMMOND, Judge.

The appellant, on January 20, 1954, filed his certificate of candidacy for judge of the Orphans' Court for Baltimore County with the Supervisors of Election of that County. The printed form supplied him by the Board indicated that he could file only in the primary election of the party of his affiliation, the Democratic party. On January 27, 1954, the appellant notified the Board of his desire to file for nomination as a candidate for the same office in the Republican primary. The Attorney General of Maryland had ruled in 1946, 32 Op.Attys.Gen. 160, that one seeking the office of judge of the Orphans' Court could file only in the primary of the party with which he was affiliated, on the ground that the Legislature intended that the statutory exception in the election laws, which permit a candidate for judge to file in more than one primary, applies only to judges of Circuit Courts, judges of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore, and judges of the Court of Appeals. The Board, following this ruling, notified the appellant that he could not cross-file. He then sought a writ of mandamus from the Circuit Court for Baltimore County to compel the Board to accept his certificate of candidacy in the Republican primary. A demurrer to the petition was filed and, on May 12, 1954, was sustained. A final order, dismissing the petition, was entered on May 13, 1954. An appeal was filed, and the appellant made inquiry as to whether it could be advanced and heard before the election. Upon learning that the absentee ballots were being printed, he did not press for an early hearing and the appeal was heard in its regular course, months after the primary of June 28, 1954, in which he was unsuccessful, was over.

The chronology of the case makes it apparent that nothing this Court could do, by reversal or otherwise, could undo or remedy that which has already occurred. It is beyond our power to make a decision in the case which will bind any of the parties to it or accomplish any of the purposes for which it was brought or defended. The case was moot as to the parties when it reached us. Appellate courts do not sit to give opinions on abstract propositions or moot questions, and appeals which present nothing else for decision are dismissed as a matter of course. Appellant urges that there is an exception to this course of action, which is that a case will not be dismissed as moot if matters of importance and general public interest are involved under conditions such that they are likely soon to recur. He urges that the appeal before us comes within this exception and, therefore, we should decide the true construction of the election laws involved, under the authority of Munsell v. Hennegan, 182 Md. 15, 31 A.2d 640, 146 A.L.R. 660. We have been referred to three instances--and our own investigation has revealed no others--in which this Court has given its views on the questions raised, where the case as to the parties before the Court was moot. The first was Close v. Southern Md. Agr. Ass'n, 134 Md. 629, 108 A. 209, 211, in which the Court held that statutes authorizing the circuit courts to issue licenses for race meetings with betting, were unconstitutional. A motion to dismiss the appeal because the license had expired before the appeal was reached, was denied and the order of the lower court reversed because the appellants had done everything they could to have their case heard in time, the lower court could grant another license immediately, and: '* * * continue to grant them from year to year, as long as the present statute remains in force, and it would not be just to it to leave the question undetermined, if there be no other reason why we cannot review the decision of that court.' It was also pointed out in the opinion that it might well be that each time a license was granted, it would have expired before the appeal reached this Court, so that the determination of the constitutional question might be indefinitely delayed. The second case is Sheehy v. Thomas, 155 Md. 688, 142 A. 506, 507, which dealt with the rights of riparian owners, as against strangers, to maintain duck blinds opposite their shore lines. The license issued was limited to the current hunting season and had expired before the case was heard on appeal. A motion to dismiss on this ground was denied and the case affirmed. The reason given was that: '* * * as riparian owners have a continuing right to the first choice annually for positions of blinds in the waters in front of their lands, it seems proper that, when a challenge of the right is of such a nature as to affect its recurring exercise, a decision of the question should not be refused merely because it could not be heard on appeal before the expiration of the current season for which were issued the licenses in operation when the suit was instituted.' The third case is Munsell v. Hennegan, 182 Md. 15, 31 A.2d 640, 642, 146 A.L.R. 660, supra, the case upon which the appellant relies. It dealt with a statute requiring candidates of any minority political party, as defined, to be nominated only by petition signed by a specified number of voters (who must certify that they intend to vote for the nominee and whose names must be published in a newspaper of general circulation), and which could be filed only if a fee of twenty-five cents for each name is paid. It was urged by the appellant, a member of the Communist party, that the unreasonableness of the requirements deprived him of his constitutional rights to have his name go before the electorate. The appellee moved to dismiss the appeal on the ground that declaratory proceedings were not the proper method of raising the question and that the time for filing a petition of nomination, under any theory, had passed, so that the case was moot. The Court said only this: 'We prefer to pass these questions without deciding them, and to base our conclusions upon the substantive questions raised, which in the public interest, we think should be decided.'

It is to be noted that in none of the three cases did the Court cite any authority for its actions nor did it discuss the principle which controls the dismissal of moot cases, or the reasons why the principle was not followed. Appeals have been dismissed as moot by this Court consistently, both before and after the decisions we have discussed. In State v. Haas, 188 Md. 63, 51 A.2d 647, 648, where it dismissed as moot one of the two appeals, the Court expressed its concept of its duty in these words: 'It was not the intention of the people of this State in establishing this court through the several constitutional enactments, that it should write treatises on the law. Its duty is to decide bona fide cases and disputes between parties.' The late cases which have dismissed appeals which were moot, include Banner v. Home Sales Co. D., 201 Md. 425, 428, 94 A.2d 246; Montgomery County v. Maryland-Washington Metropolitan Dist., 200 Md. 525, 92 A.2d 350; and Eberts v. Congressional Country Club, Inc., 197 Md. 461, 464, 79 A.2d 518,...

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    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
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    ...particularly if all these factors concur with sufficient weight." Id. at 300 n. 18, 380 A.2d 12 (quoting Lloyd v. Supervisors of Elections, 206 Md. 36, 43, 111 A.2d 379 (1954)). Mercy Hosp., Inc. v. Jackson, supra, provides guidance on this point. In that case, a Jehovah's Witness refused t......
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  • Comptroller of the Treasury v. Zorzit, 883, Sept. Term, 2013.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • January 30, 2015
    ...the issues raised by a question which has become moot, particularly if all these factors concur with sufficient weight.206 Md. 36, 43, 111 A.2d 379 (1954) (emphasis added).15 We agree with the Comptroller that the case presented on appeal involves a matter capable of repetition yet evading ......
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