House Judiciary Committee passes Justice's Law

March 21, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |

A bill increasing the maximum sentence for fatal child abuse cleared its most significant hurdle yet on Tuesday when it passed a House of Delegates committee.

Justice’s Law, as the bill is known, languished in the House Judiciary Committee in past years, failing to even come up for a vote.

But on Tuesday, the committee voted unanimously to send the bill to the full House.

Currently, the maximum penalty for first-degree child abuse resulting in death in Maryland is 30 years in prison.

Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington, who sponsored the House version of the bill, said an amendment changing the new proposed maximum from life in prison, as originally proposed, to 40 years in prison appears to have been the difference this year.

Sen.Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, who is in his fifth year of pushing for the change in the law, previously made the same change to the Senate version.


The Judicial Proceedings Committee passed the Senate version last week. The full Senate approved the bill 46-0 on Wednesday.

Its final step in the legislature will be winning the support of the full House of Delegates, possibly within the next few days.

If both chambers approve the bill, it would go to Gov. Martin O’Malley for his signature.

Shank first filed the bill in 2008, a year after 4-month-old Justice Christopher Calvin Myers-Cannon was shaken to death in Washington County.

Floyd Edward Bingaman III of Hagerstown was sentenced to 30 years in prison for Justice’s death.

For three years, Shank, when he was a delegate, presented the bill in the Judiciary Committee, but didn’t get enough support.

In the past, the committee chairman, Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr., D-Calvert/Prince George’s, has been skeptical, saying current law already affords adequate punishment for a judge to impose.

Asked last week, after the bill passed the Senate committee, if he’d support 40 years as a maximum, Vallario would only say, “I have no idea. I gotta take a look at it.”

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