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Baltimore County clerk candidate sues rival

The Republican candidate for clerk of the Baltimore County Circuit Court filed a $2 million defamation lawsuit Wednesday against his Democratic rival.

Richard J. Reinhardt II alleges Julie Ensor implicated him in being responsible for the disappearance and destruction of 200 of her campaign signs. The lawsuit seeks $1 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.

“What kind of dollar value do you put on someone’s good name?” asked Richard J. Reinhardt, the candidate’s father and a Towson lawyer who filed the lawsuit.

Ensor and her husband, Mark, who is also her campaign treasurer, met with police earlier this month to report that her signs had either been destroyed or cut. According to the police report cited in Reinhardt’s lawsuit, Julie Ensor said that “where the signs had been stolen, damaged or moved the opposing candidate’s signs have been placed nearby.”

The lawsuit alleges Ensor wanted police to charge Reinhardt with theft over $500, a felony, and malicious destruction over $500, a misdemeanor, accusations she knew were “maliciously false and untrue” and “slanderous per se,” the lawsuit states. (The signs were valued at $5 each.)

“The statements were contrived…and were communicated by the Defendants for the sole purpose and intent to injure the Plaintiff in his good name, fame and reputation,” the lawsuit states.

Julie Ensor, in an interview Wednesday afternoon, said she was unaware of the lawsuit but denied she implied to police that Reinhardt was responsible for her missing signs.

“That isn’t the inference at all,” she said. “I haven’t made any accusations against any individuals.”

Ensor said a police officer asked her who her opponent was and if she noticed “anything unusual” at the locations where her signs had been taken.

“I just gave him information on what I observed in certain areas,” she said.

Ensor added that her signs have been taken throughout the county, typically cut from their wire bases. In areas with multiple political signs, hers was the only one missing, she said.

Police last week interviewed Reinhardt at his campaign headquarters regarding the signs, but no charges have been filed.

Reinhardt referred all questions to his father.

8 comments

  1. Aren’t statements to police immune from defamation lawsuits by privilege or do I remember incorrectly from Torts II? There is the theoretical possibility of a malicious prosecution suit but then there has to be more than just a statement – there has to be follow-through leading to tangible damage IIRC.

  2. Hi Mr. Godfrey –
    That’s an excellent question that I’ve been trying to get answered. (I put some calls out yesterday and was in court all day, so I didn’t have a chance to follow-up.) I hope to have a blog post about this tomorrow. Thanks for the comment.

  3. This is ridiculous. First, this proves 2 things: 1) neither of these candidates deserve the public trust, but 2) because Reinhardt filed another frivolous lawsuit to clog up our courts, and then defers to his father for comment, this shows that he completely lacks leadership, tact and vision. (And before you start, I am a Republican who would support Reinhardt in the election but won’t now).

    Should we really elect someone who is so fast to sue people like this to The Clerk of the Court? I argue that this shows an immaturity that is not electable. Finally, I did a Google search on the father, and found some discussion of an ethics violation he was charged with while practicing law. If this is true-we should not blame the son for the sins of the father, but since he is the “spokesperson” here I think we need to think about that. This is a circus and as a Republican it embarrasses me.

  4. You recall incorrectly. The story says it’s a per se. Where in the world is this woman buying her political signs? If she’s paying $5 a sign then I have some swampland to sell her.

  5. What a joke. That kid is an absolute liar and opportunist.

  6. This is a good reason NOT to vote for Reinhart.

  7. Mr. Godfrey:

    Your memory is only partially correct. The rule of absolute privilege of statements to police officers is the minority
    view. In the majority of states, including Maryland, such statements are not entitled to absolute privilege, and can result in hefty damages. See Caldor v. Bowden, 330 Md. 632
    (1993).

  8. “What kind of dollar value do you put on someone’s good name?” asked Richard J. Reinhardt, the candidate’s father and a Towson lawyer who filed the lawsuit.

    Apparently you CAN actually put a dollar value on someone’s name- $2 million dollars. So then I wonder if Mr. Reinhardt is planning on paying Julie Ensor a few million? It seems to me that this is more about the defamation of Julie Ensor’s name than about protecting his own. I can recognize the good name in this campaign without the smoke and mirrors, thank you.

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