"That's really an outlier," he said. "I've heard there were 3-year-old cases and 5-year-old cases. I didn't know we had any 8-year-old cases," he said.

Frosh said the General Assembly has tried to impose deadlines for the courts to complete their work, only to be rebuffed under the separation-of-powers doctrine.

Del. Kathleen Dumais, vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said prosecutors have reassured her that the opinion will not be a get-out-of-jail card for other offenders.

"I don't necessarily think there are a lot of cases that are going to be able to use this case to say 'review my case,' the Montgomery County Democrat said. "This was very fact-specific."

Dumais said the House tends to balk at mandatory minimum sentences, but she would not rule out keeping the exception for felons possessing a firearm.

Del. Michael Smigiel, an Eastern Shore Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said he would introduce legislation to negate the court ruling by scrapping the statute that leaves the sentence to a judge's discretion.

"It should be mandatory," he said. "You misuse a firearm in the commission of a crime, it should be a mandatory sentence. It's a God-given right you give up when you break your contract with society and become a predator."

Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.

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andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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