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Former County Executive Leopold files to have misconduct verdicts vacated

| January 28, 2019, 02:02 PM

Rams Head

Former County Executive John R. Leopold has filed a petition in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to have his convictions of misconduct in office vacated.

The legal term is a Writ of Coram Nobis:

The writ of coram nobis (also known as writ of error coram nobis, writ of coram vobis, or writ of error coram vobis) is a legal order allowing a court to correct its original judgment upon discovery of a fundamental error that did not appear in the records of the original judgment’s proceedings and would have prevented the judgment from being pronounced.

This was filed on January 25th by his attorney, Nick Panteleakis.

Last fall, we spoke with Leopold about his then-campaign for the Maryland House of Delegates and his conviction. Leopold presented his medical records that contradicted the testimony of the State’s leading witness, Patti Medlin, his scheduling secretary. During the trial, Leopold asked his attorney, Bruce Marcus, to address the discrepancy; but because Marcus did not feel a crime was committed, he did not cross examine either of the key witnesses.  As a result, Leopold was convicted on two counts of misconduct in office and sentenced to 2 years in jail (suspended all but 60, with the first 30 in Jenifer Road Detention Center and second 30 under house arrest) and a period of five years probation. In addition, he was fined $100,000 and required to perform 400 hours of community service. As a result, Leopold was forced to resign his office.

Listen to Leopold’s interview here:

Now, in an attempt to correct the record, he is taking this next step We met with the former County Executive over the weekend and asked why. He maintained that the judge in the trial was inflamed by false testimony and had a grand jury transcript to prove it.

Prior to his trial in 2013, a grand jury was convened to determine if there was enough evidence to go to trial. There was, and Leopold was charged. Typically a grand jury transcript is a sealed document unless it is a part of another legal case. By bringing forth this case, the document is now public.

Count 3, The Catheter

In that document, Medlin testified that she changed the catheter several times a day for “weeks”; yet in the trial, she contended that it was closer to a year.  In the grand jury, she stated she had a medical background and “Stuff like that really doesn’t affect me.” Leopold’s medical records, which were not introduced at trial, established a time line for his catheter use which ended on April 22, 2010.  Testimony at the trial indicated that surgery on his back was February 23, 2010 with a discharge from the hospital on February 28th. He returned to work on March 8 working half-days until March 21. The catheter bag was no longer in use (substantiated by medical records) on August 22, 2010.  In the filing, Leopold’s attorney claims that had this information been presented at trial, he woudl have been acquitted of one of the counts.

Count 1, Misuse of Executive Protection

This count revolves around the County Executive’s executive protection officers (County police officers) performing campaign work while on County time. Leopold claims that the officers performed several minor campaign tasks–picking up donations and occasionally checking on signs that had been vandalized in the past. He also states that he believed they were doing this as a volunteer to the campaign on their own time on the weekends. It is not unusual for local government employees to volunteer on campaigns. When Leopold discovered that they were submitting overtime for these tasks, he put a halt to it and called for an audit. This was prior to any investigation or the hint of one. Concurrent with this audit, Leopold was pressing for binding arbitration with the police union which this filing claims created an inherent bias against the County Executive. The officers involved were granted immunity for their testimony, and several recorded conversations between officers and their supervisor was never entered into evidence at the trial. Based on that, the filing believes that Count 1 would have resulted in an acquittal as well.

Ineffective Representation

When he ignored my requests and instructions, he stopped being my defense counsel and became my adversary. Click To Tweet

Bruce Marcus was hired to represent Leopold on the recommendation of then-County Attorney Jonathan Hodgson. The filing alleges that Marcus failed to disclose some conflicts of interest to Leopold. Leopold is a Republican. Marcus was appointed by Democrats Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch as the Chair of the Election Law Commission where he was specifically charged with examining issues related to the Office of the State Prosecutor–the office that was prosecuting his client. Additionally, Marcus was the Counsel for the Maryland Democratic Party, which was also not disclosed. Based on this, the filing claims that the representation fell below a standard of reasonableness as to a conflict of interest.

The Inflamed Court

Based on the false testimony of the trial, Leopold’s attorney believes the court was inflamed and lost the ability to be unbiased. The Judge (or jury) is supposed to maintain the notion of innocence until all evidence has been presented and closing arguments have been made.  Specifically the judge had a 40 page sentencing memo prepared in advance of the verdict and read from the memo at the verdict. But more serious is that they believe the Judge had predisposed the sentence. During the sentencing, the Judge stated he had contacted the detention center to “set the wheels in motion” for Leopold’s sentence. The prosecution did not seek a jail sentence in the case and the Court declined to let Leopold turn himself in as the Court had already made arrangements for his medical issues to be handled in the facility.

Leopold’s Stance

John Leopold has maintained that if everything said about him was true, that he’d agree that he was “cruel and predatory” and deserved a severe sentence. But it was not.  In our meeting this weekend, he said that “Key elements of Patricia Medlin’s testimony were blatantly false and inconsistent with my medical records, her Grand Jury testimony, Jane Miller’s statement at sentencing, and Officer Mark Walker’s trial testimony.” He continued that “Medlin’s testimony inflamed the trial court and Court of Special Appeals and aroused feelings of fierce hostility.”

As to Marcus, “When he ignored my requests and instructions, he stopped being my defense counsel and became my adversary.”

So, where does this all go from here? The petition will be reviewed by Judge Laura Ripken as the Administrative Judge and a hearing will likely be heard by a judge from a different jurisdiction. The timetable is unknown.

And what is the next step for Leopold? His political career is likely over, so he will wait on the outcome of this petition. And as he said, ” the truth is always worth fighting for.”

Read the petition here! (Dropbox to PDF)

 

 

 

Category: Local News, NEWS, POLITICAL NEWS, Post To FB

About the Author - John Frenaye

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for nearly 25 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news–and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009.

John’s background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.

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