Judge to make decision on unemployment benefits Saturday morning

Posted at 8:43 PM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 23:18:08-04

BALTIMORE — On Friday night, thousands of Marylanders were on edge as they awaited a decision from a state judge about unemployment.

The plaintiffs are taking Governor Larry Hogan and the Secretary of Labor to court to rescind the order to halt additional unemployment benefits.

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Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill said he will have a written decision by 10 a.m. tomorrow morning.

The judge said he will post it on the courthouse website.

Initially his plan was to make a decision by the end of the day Friday, but an attorney for the plaintiffs brought up that benefits actually can’t end until midnight tomorrow night— so the judge decided he wanted to take more time.

Hundreds of people dialed into the audio only hearing

There were two separate lawsuits before the state court.

The Plaintiffs attorneys pointed out how people will be put at grave risk if these benefits are cut short.

Alec Summerfield is a pro bono attorney with the Maryland Unemployed Workers Union.

“That $300 represents food on the table,” Summerfield said. “That represents child care, that represents car payments, house payments, healthcare payments.”

The legal aspect of their claim was the the decision violates title 8 of the Maryland Annotated Code — pointing to a ruling in Indiana in favor of the plaintiffs.

“The whole idea of that section is that it’s Maryland public policy to combat involuntary unemployment as a hazard to the general welfare, an evil really,” said Summerfield. “The entire title 8 needs to be interpreted within the context of that policy framework.”

Defense attorney Christopher Mellot said the wiring in Indiana State Law is different than Maryland State law and gave examples.

Centering his argument for Governor Larry Hogan and Secretary of Labor Tiffany Robinson around the claim that rescinding these benefits early will get people back to work and help employers desperately looking for employees.

The Governor issued this order a month ago and has the right to terminate the benefits.

Mellot mentioned that the amount of people depending on unemployment effects the states ability to train people to clear the massive backlog of unpaid benefits.

Sharon Black, with the Unemployed Workers Union, said if the judge doesn’t rule in their favor it’s important to note they still have half their lawsuit for people who are waiting on unpaid benefits and plan to hold protests regardless of the outcome.

“We have vowed to continue to fight for every unemployed Marylander in this state who has not received their benefits yet,” Black said. “Some of them date back to over a year.”

The judge said he will post his decision on the court houses website here and we will update you online as soon as he comes to a decision.