October 09, 2019

Professor John Sharifi successfully argued for reversal in Nikki Long v. State of Maryland, decided on October 4, 2019, in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Sharifi agreed to handle Ms. Long’s appeal on behalf of the state’s public defender’s office. The case raised an interesting issue of “territorial jurisdiction”—where the crime occurred—which Sharifi argued amounted to plain error.

Ms. Long and her co-defendant were convicted of drug distribution and possession stemming from a traffic stop that occurred very near the Maryland/D.C. line nearly two years ago. There was an issue related to which side of the line the alleged crime took place, and the appeal centered on that determination. Because the issue was not preserved in the trial court, the appellate argument relied on the extraordinary concept of plain error relief. The Court of Special Appeals reversed Ms. Long’s convictions in a 2-1 decision. Nikki Long v. State, No. 2087, September Term, 2018.

Professor Sharifi periodically handles criminal appeals on behalf of indigent clients. His work in this regard includes the landmark homicide case of State v. Jones, 451 Md. 680 (2017), in which he successfully argued for the elimination of a theory of murder from Maryland law.

Professor Sharifi teaches Evidence and Trial Practice at the law school, and is the director of the National Trial Team.