Lawyers Lay Out Their Cases in Leopold Trial
The defense for Anne Arundel's county executive says the accusations while "tawdry" do not rise to a level of criminal behavior.
The prosecution and defense laid out their cases in opening statements for the trial of Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold on Friday morning.
Leopold faces a five-count indictment, which includes four counts of misconduct in office and one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary.
Maryland State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt said his case would "in a nutshell" show that the two-term county executive "willfully abused and misused" the powers given to him under the Anne Arundel County Charter.
He highlighted the prosecution's first witness, Patricia Medlin, who served as Leopold's scheduling secretary during his two terms in office.
"She will describe an atmosphere of intimidation and fear," Davitt said. "Fear of incurring Mr. Leopold’s wrath and fear of losing her job."
Davitt also focused on some of the indictments' more salacious details, including Leopold tasking his security force made up of Anne Arundel County police officers with changing "a urine bag attached to his ankle not once, not twice but day in and day out, week after week and month after month."
And that on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, his security detail would often "drive [Leopold] out to lunch to various locations but primarily to a bowling alley parking lot where the defendant would get into a car with this county employee and engage in sexual activity while the officers were directed to wait on the other side of the parking lot."
Davitt also touched on the creation of files allegedly compiled by Leopold's security detail against his political enemies "under the direction of the county executive."
The accusations over the Pasadena Republican's alleged "enemies list" has led to a separate lawsuit filed in December 2012 by the American Civil Liberties Union to release the documents on 11 people who believe files were compiled against them.
"It’s criminal misconduct because it’s in violation of his duties as a sworn county executive," Davitt said. "I believe at the end of this trial the evidence will show he violated the public trust by committing this misconduct in office."
In contrast, defense Attorney Bruce Marcus spent approximately 40 minutes focusing on Leopold the man in an opening statement that also included a photo slide show.
Marcus laid out his case that "however tawdry" or "salacious" the state's accusations against Leopold are, they "do not rise to the level of criminal behavior."
"They may viewed in the light of poor judgment, lack of social grace, but they do not rise to the level of criminal behavior," Marcus said.
He said that officers assigned as a security detail for a president, governor or any elected official often have different responsibilities than regular police officers.
"These officers are required to be involved in some of the most intimate details in the life of the protectee," Marcus said. "They have one goal and that is the safe passage and safety of the protectee."
He said these duties might include protecting the person during social visits, vacations and dropping children off at school.
"That standard in trying to determine what is the permissible scope of what is an executive protection person will be spelled out," Marcus said. "It can’t be left to the whim or caprice of one side of the courtroom."
He also spent time discussing the details of Leopold's two back surgeries and the medical complications that arose as a result, including the requirement that Leopold use a catheter due to a neurogenic bladder.
"There is no other way to explain this, and I apologize for the fact that we are dealing with these issues," Marcus said.
He said that during the time in which the prosecution alleges Leopold inappropriately asked officers and staff to change his catheter bag, the county executive was in "crippling and excruciating" pain.
Marcus said that the alleged fraud against Leopold for permitting overtime pay for his security detail fails to meet the burden of proof because "there is one signature that does not appear and that is John Leopold."
If convicted on the fraud charge, Leopold could face a five-year jail sentence.
The prosecution will start calling witnesses on Friday.