Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.

Call Toll-Free: 866-435-2795

Locally at: 410-415-9219

Category: Criminal Defense

A Nice Thank You

When I got out of court today, I had this email.  I have redacted the name and employer, but if you do these cases correctly, this should happen:

Hello Gary,

I would like to thank you for everything you have done for me.  You helped me turn a troubling time around, and I have grown exponentially as a person.  Today I accepted a full time job with_____, a government agency that works ________.  I am very excited and grateful for your part in getting me this job.  I have to pass a security clearance, and as you recommended I was honest about my DWI, and they said it shouldn't be a problem.  Once again thank you so much, and perhaps when I am back in Towson I can take you out to lunch, assuming you ever get some free time.


Seminar for District Court Public Defenders

I have been contacted by two separate supervisors in Baltimore City to give a DUI and Serious Traffic Seminar to their new District Court lawyers.  DUI is more complicated than many other types of criminal cases.  The science and the technical aspects are different than in a drug case or assault, or theft case.  The issues with charging documents comes up more in traffic matters.  If you do not know the law and the rules of criminal procedure, you wind up being bullied by the judges and the prosecutors.  Because of the sentencing difficulties with so many judges in the City, you have to avoid them by demanding a jury trial, otherwise you are looking at an appeal.  I file a written demand so that I do not get locked in to the District Court or waste a morning going to court for a 30 second proceeding.  The public defenders can read the judge's schedule just like everyone else.  If they want to stop being treated like door mats, they have to file written demands when they can see there is no reason to keep the case in the District.  If the entire docket is wiped out, so be it.  You have to represent your client whether you are getting paid by them or the State.  You also do not have to agree to amendments to charging documents that change the character of the offense.  Make them dismiss the case and write your client the correct ticket, unless you are going to be able to get a favorable result in front of this particular judge.  Jury demand, in writing, an over charged driving while suspended and let them fix it downtown in the Circuit Court.  They can dismiss and recharge or file the correct charge.  Get the case into a courtroom where you have a judge that you feel will treat your client the fairest.  You do not represent the judge, and you try to please them, but you have to do your constitutional duty for your client.  The police have to learn to do it correctly. When they do, you may be stuck, but until then, don't roll over.  

Contested Judicial Elections

I do not use my Blog as a political forum except as to laws the General Assembly has or needs to pass.  Today, a lawyer blogger (Page Croyder) filed to run for Circuit Court in Baltimore City because she believes one of the male judges up for re-election is "horrible" and sexist.  There will be 7 present judges running for re-election.  The ballot is printed alphabetically.  The "horrible" male judge is number 4 on the ballot.  The blogger will be either number 3 or 4.  NO ONE except lawyers knows a damn thing about the judges.  ZERO!!!  Every election I get calls from every non lawyer I know asking me who to vote for.  I have campaigned for years and you get a few seconds at the polls to try to explain why to retain the Sitting Judges.  When there are 3 or 4 running, it is still difficult to point out the challenger even when the ballot has these few names.  You can explain some of the backgrounds of the 3 or 4 Sitting Judges.  Now there will be 8 names, and the voter will have a little more difficult time, skipping over one name in the middle of an election ballot.  The last named judge (Julie Rubin), who I have never met nor appeared before, is already beloved.  She is off the chain brilliant and runs a wonderful courtroom.  I know her dad, who is a fine lawyer, and the acorn did not fall far from the tree.  The "horrible" judge is a mortal lock to be re-elected.  There is no way he loses because of ballot position.  The end result is that a female judge who is already thought of as one of the best judges in Baltimore City will be off the bench.  Insane!  Judge Rubin can do more to restore to the court whatever dignity Page thinks is lost by the presence of the male judge, than Page will ever be able to do.  People have tried in the past to run against 1 judge, and it never, never, works.  The last on the ballot gets defeated, and Page knows this.  This is a train wreck in the making, and I just felt the need to say something publicly, in addition to expressing this on the private Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys' list serve.  If you live in Baltimore City, make sure you make a note to vote for Julie Rubin and not Page Croyder.

Baltimore County Not Guilty

This is a two part comment.  One on the case and one about the judge.  Yesterday I had a DUI with an issue about the arrest.  The video showed my client was not impaired, and the only reason for the stop was excessive speed.  Because of the judge's reputation for harsh sentences, I explained to my client that if we lost she would not accept a PBJ because of the probation conditions I expected would be imposed.  The judge is great on legal issues, but if you lose, I believe some of the "usual" probation conditions are unwarranted. I sat through the docket waiting for my trial and saw that the judge's probation conditions were completely in-line with everyone else. The "unusual" conditions were not imposed, even where I expected they would.  I told my client, there would be no appeal as no one would be fairer on the law, and that if we lost the sentence would be appropriate.

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Right to Counsel

I watched the Webcast of the oral argument in the Court of Appeals concerning the right to counsel before you agree to take or refuse a breath test.  For almost the last 30 years it has been understood that if you request counsel, you can call a lawyer or be given a phone book to help find one.  The caveat is that it could not interfere with having the test performed within two hours so the State could have the benefit of the statutory presumptions regarding the breath test results.  This was thrown into question when the Court of Appeals in the Njafi case threw it out there, that although they were not deciding the issue, you might not be able to raise the denial of counsel in the Administrative Hearing, although you could in court.  This means that if you want to call your lawyer and they don't let you, the results of the test or the refusal are inadmissible in court, but the issue cannot be raised at the Administrative Hearing.  Now the lawyer's advice concerns both the Administrative side of the case (loss of license, interlock, suspension), and the Court side (the admission of the test results or the refusal).  It is hard to intellectualize how you parse this. One size should fit all.  

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Contact Information

  • Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.
  • 29 W. Susquehanna Avenue, Suite 700
  • Towson, Maryland 21204
  • Toll Free: 866-435-2795
  • Locally: 410-415-9219
  • Fax: 410-823-0610

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