County Executive's Trial Postponed Until 2013
A judge ruled Thursday that the case against John R. Leopold, originally scheduled for next month, will not be heard until next year.
UPDATE (1:45 p.m.)—Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold will have to wait at least two months longer for his trial, after a court filing was approved Thursday.
Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Paul A. Hackner approved postponing Leopold's trial between two months, and possibly up to 2013, so that his defense has more time to prepare, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Leopold was indicted by a grand jury in March for four counts of misconduct and one count of financial malfeasance.
The Baltimore Sun reported that in court on Thursday, Leopold's attorney Bruce Marcus argued that the defense was looking into the conduct of other officials in Maryland, particularly how they handle security.
Leopold's private security team, composed of employees with the Anne Arundel County Police Department, have been accused of abusing privileges to access state and federal criminal databases to dig up information on so-called political enemies.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has conducted its own investigation, and in June announced they had confirmed many of these allegations.
The Anne Arundel County Council has been debating amendments to the county charter—the document that governs how the county operates—over the summer. One of the proposed charter amendments, set to be voted on Monday, would provide the grounds to ouster a county executive from office if they are convicted of a felony.
County Councilman Jamie Benoit (D-3rd District), of Crownsville, told Patch that he wasn't surprised by Thursday's turn of events. Criminal cases are typically delayed in favor of the defense for 60 to 90 days, but Benoit said it shouldn't push the trial back too far.
"It doesn't cause me much concern," Benoit said.
Benoit added that he has several "significant" changes prepared for the charter amendment proposed for Monday night, but declined to comment on the specifics of them.
In March, the council subpoenaed former Police Chief James Teare Sr. for his involvement with Leopold. When he arrived for questioning, Teare deferred most questions in light of the pending trial. Four months later, Teare announced his resignation, and the state prosecutor's office simultaneously announced they were dropping a criminal investigation into Teare.
This week, the county's newest police chief Larry W. Tolliver was sworn into office.
CORRECTION: An earlier edition of this article incorrectly identified Leopold's security team as sheriff's employees. However, they are employed with the Anne Arundel County Police Department. Patch regrets the error.