Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.

Call Toll-Free: 866-435-2795

Locally at: 410-415-9219

Category: Criminal Defense

Harford County Criminal Not Guilty

I had a drug trial in the District Court this morning.  When I tried to point out the flaws to the prosecutor, I was met with an abrupt, "if you think I am going to drop this case, the answer is no."  I asked about the cocaine charge since there was no cocaine detected at the State Police Crime Lab, and I was told he was trying all the counts.  That actually saved my client $30.00 because you have to pay for the expungement if one of the charges is dismissed by the State.  The State wanted the drug evidence there so we had to wait until another trooper retrieved it from Perryville.  The drugs were in a Garmin GPS box.  The drugs included the co-defendant's prescription bottle.  The evidence from the trooper was that my client and his 4 passengers were at a music festival and had to rush to leave because of a storm.  A passenger threw a cigarette out the window that struck the trooper's car.  He smelled marihuana when he got to our vehicle, but none was recovered. Everyone told the trooper they just threw things in each others' bags.  The closed GPS box was in my client's duffel bag.  When Mirandized and asked about it, he denied knowing it was there or what was in it.  When the co-defendant, who was also found with suspected drugs on his person and in his duffel bag, was asked about the GPS box with his Adderal, he said he would not answer any questions about the contents of the box.  

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Harford County NG and a Little Payback

Well I got a bit of a twofer yesterday.  I was back in District Court because the docket was too crowded the last time, and this time the Clerk left time for a trial.  The Court Clerks in Harford County are as good as it gets.  The State offered the usual plead to everything and we will defer.  I explained to the prosecutor, with whom I have had trial over the years, that I could not do worse at trial.  She smiled and agreed, so a little after 11 we began and finished after 3 (there was a lunch break).  The Deputy was the asshole who towed my client's car when MVA erroneously listed him as suspended, even though he had the interlock in the car.  It was cleared up while the Deputy was arranging the tow, but he refused to speak to me or the MVA Interlock Rep who was on my client's speaker phone.  I had to call the Harford County Sheriff himself (who was then only person working after 3:00 PM), and he not only released the car, but paid the towing bill.  Whether he charged it back against Deputy's salary is unknown.  The Sheriff is a stand up guy, and he was pissed at this exercise of arrogance and bullying.  Two days after that, yesterday's client comes in.  I see the Deputy's name, tell her the story, and suggest he needs a good beating (in court), as a payback.  Well I won because he screwed up, and it was sweet.  In fact, the breath tech operator was smiling, laughing and nodding in agreement with me about the screw up as the prosecutor tried to defend the indefensible.  I asked the judge to consider the actions of the tech who was still on the witness stand, and that was pretty funny as well.

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“Who was more surprised General Custer or Prosecutor Bernstein”

That was the first sentence from a retired judge who I sat down to lunch with yesterday. I bumped into him and he had a big smile on his face.  He too had felt duped and personally experienced the arrogance of the now deposed State's Attorney for Baltimore City.  NOW IF HE WOULD ONLY CHANGE HIS LAST NAME! We are not related.  Bernstein now has to sit as a lame duck for the next 6 months.  He began his purge of seasoned prosecutors before he was even sworn in.  He told a high ranking prosecutor he could leave now if he wanted, even though he was still working for the soon to be former State's Attorney.  He then wished him a Happy Thanksgiving. Bernstein could chose to follow his own advice and leave now so that the bench could pick Ms. Mosby as the interim prosecutor pending her general election victory.  That might relieve the anxiety that always exists when there is a change at the top.  Until Bernstein, the anxiety was unfounded, and prosecutors did not have to worry about their careers.  Ms. Mosby, having worked in the office, knows the value of experience.  The office has suffered tremendously by the callous firings and demotions.  Bernstein's Deputy who is mentioned below, got out of Dodge just in time, and secured an appointment to the federal bench.  I am sure he will use his connections to help Bernstein secure some type of position in the federal system, and of course he could always hire him as a law clerk.  Bernstein hired competent people, he just never let them grow or think.  Ms. Mosby worked at a time when your judgment was trusted and valued.  She wants to stem the tide of violence and that starts in the schools.  Sandra O'Connor (not the Supreme Court Justice) was the elected State's Attorney for Baltimore County. She was in the public schools daily and her office and waiting room reflected it.  If Ms. Mosby puts the right people as Deputy and lets the creative juices flow from the people there now, she can do tremendous good by being a positive role model.  Who better than a young black chief prosecutor to go into the schools of Baltimore City and speak to the may single parent kids who struggle each day.  The message she brings has a better chance of being heard, than from an arrogant aloof white guy who shares nothing and knows nothing about the struggles these kids face.  She can do more to put a dent in crime by going to the schools and engaging these kids, than she can by trying an occasional case and getting some publicity.  Bernstein tried 2 cases.  The first one he got his ass kicked.  The second was a slam dunk murder where the defendant turned down a favorable plea.  Neither case enamored him with the voters or the communities.  As I type this, my badge from when I was a prosecutor sits above on the wall. Maybe it was no accident that during the Bernstein reign, the name tag fell off. It is time to glue it back on.       

I posted the following comments at the Baltimore Sun article on Ms. Mosby's election.  

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Update On Dumbest Case Ever

15 minute not guilty verdict of felony and gun and PBJ for possession of marihuana, after a day and half in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.  Juror number 5 walks out after the verdict and gives my client a thumbs up!.  First alternate gives my client  her juror's notes when she is excused where she wrote,  "the gun charge is a joke," "guilty of possession."  I have worn people out complaining about this case.  Over 2 years ago a self-medicating guy gets busted for growing pot.  The police stumble on it because they have a warrant for his idiot former roommate who did not show up on traffic court.  He has 43 plants in different stages BUT NOT ONE with a smokeable bud.  All stalks and leaves, and the police Sgt. stated you do not smoke the leaves.

Inexplicably, the State decides not to pursue a manufacturing charge, but instead pursues a possession with intent to distribute marihuana.  Now when the case originated, I thought it was a PBJ for Manufacturing.  Because he had a shotgun he had just bought for skeet shooting and it was mounted on the wall, the prosecutor says he needs permission from his supervisor to drop the gun charge, DRUG TRAFFICKING WITH A FIREARM- MANDATORY WITHOUT PAROLE. During one of the 12 postponements the trial judge we had today told the prosecutor to talk to someone because my client was not a jail guy.  Apparently the then Deputy State's Attorney, George Hazel, who has someone secured a lifetime appointment to the federal bench, could only be reached by email (by his own prosecutors), and after a thorough review decided my client could plead to the felony alone and take 2 years in jail.  The now federal judge did not realize they were pursuing the wrong charge!  I had pointed out there was not a baggie or scale recovered in the house, and I was met by a "he must have run out, before the matter was forwarded to the now judge."  I also provided them with the receipt for the shotgun.  It was for skeet shooting, and self defense if they were burglarized again, since the police blew them off the last time and refused to investigate.  That never happened when I was a prosecutor, but the city police department today is a disgrace.

The police Sgt. testifies that there was not one piece of evidence showing that a my client distributed this marihuana.  Not a $5.00 baggie, not a $10.00 baggie.  NADA.  He did however have a kazillion smoking devices and baggies with residue of what my client had bought and smoked.  This big time dealer slept on an air mattress that I had the Sgt. say was not filled with cash, had no jewelry, not even a watch.  Bail $150,000.00, which is why we have such a problem in Baltimore City.  The Sgt. then told the jury there was no smokeable weed on the 43 plants.  My client testifies that there would have been buds in October or November- 7 months after the arrest!  He admitted everyone in the house smoked weed, and that he had shared his "product" in the past.  The State's theory was that WHEN (I countered with IF) the plants produced buds, he would have shared it, and therefore he was guilty of the felony!  Since the gun was nearby he was guilty of that too.  My client had been growing weed for 17 months and the gun was bought 40 days before the arrest.  It never had anything to do with the weed, because NOBODY KNEW he was growing it.  The Sgt. had been in that area investigating drug traffic for 2 years and never heard of my guy.  

Of the 400 cases they can try in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, this is one of them.  People charged with violent offenses go free because witnesses disappear while we try a guy who might share marihuana with his roommates.  For those non-growers, there are male and female plants. You throw away the males.  You could not tell the gender at the time of the arrest.  The State had no idea and no one to say that you could get any shareable marihuana out of these plants.  Why, because you don't have a f…… clue until they start to produce male and female growth, and then you keep the females  My client was the expert and explained it completely to the jury.  If they keep their notes and want to, they know how to grow marihuana.  

My client is employed, and as I told the prosecutor 2 years ago, and then he remarked to the jury today my client had a job making more money than the prosecutor.  This was insane.  I have no satisfaction winning this case because I would have turned in my law license if I lost.  Why it took them longer than 5 minutes is beyond me.  I questioned whether I should even mention the name of a federal judge because I am sure the Marshalls, etc,, monitor every mention made of a federal judge.  I hope they do, because he should see his "product."  He is in Greenbelt and I never go there, so he will never have to recuse himself if he reads this.  Meanwhile someone charged with a violent crime gets postponed for 2 months and waits for his day in court, and the witnesses live in fear another day.  

Another fine job by the consigliores of the Gregg Bernstein run State's Attorney's Office.  Now that his Deputy who made the decision here is gone, hopefully he is finished on June 24th when the primary election is over.     

 

State Drops Case Today

I try not to take a case from another lawyer.  I think it is professional courtesy, unless the lawyer is a moron.  A client came to me about two months ago and wanted to switch lawyers.  His lawyer (the partner) is very good and a friend of mine.  I told him no, but he insisted because the lawyer was passing him off to a member of their team and he had no confidence in the associate.  I asked why, and he explained the associate had done no work on the case, had not interviewed the driver of the vehicle, and had not subpoenaed the driver.  I sent the client back to the partner to tell him this was unacceptable and that he hired him and expected him to represent him.  The partner told him he was too busy to handle the case. 

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  • 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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