We have, I believe, the first opinion authored by Judge Douglas R. M. Nazarian, who was appointed to the Court of Special Appeals in January.  And it is worthy of mention not only because it is his first reported opinion, but also because it makes reference to “backsies,” and to one of Russell Hoban’s Frances books.

The opinion is Barson v. Maryland Board of Physicians, No. 2673 (Md. App. May 3, 2013).  The case has to do with a consent order entered in the Maryland Board of Physicians, the body charged with the licensing and discipline of physicians.  A consent order is akin to a plea agreement in criminal court, although it is important to note that the Board is an administrative agency and its determinations are not criminal in nature.  In any event, a physician sought to renegotiate the order when she had second thoughts about it and the Board denied her request.  The Court of Special Appeals agreed and held that the Board was under no obligation to revise the order.

Here’s where we get to “backsies:”

A deal is always a deal, but this appeal brings to mind the long-standing playground rule of “no backsies.” By calling “no backsies” before finalizing an agreement, the parties reiterate and reinforce their intention to be bound and stay bound.

And then, in a footnote:

See, e.g., Russell Hoban, A Bargain for Frances (1970). The Consent Order in this case is, as the discussion below reveals, distinguishable from the bargain in the story, which Frances entered in reliance on her friend Thelma’s misrepresentations about the value and virtues and availability of plastic versus china tea sets. Even still, and putting aside whether Frances might have been able to seek rescission from a higher authority, the “no backsies” rule held until Thelma’s seller’s remorse (fueled in part by a clever if borderline omission on Frances’s part) led her to seek, and Frances to agree to, backsies after all. Another variant applies in the game of tag: if a player who is “it” calls “no backsies” before tagging another, the taggee cannot tag him/her back immediately.


Any friend of Frances is a friend of mine, for the record.