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Judge lets case against Leopold proceed

The judge in the misconduct in office trial of Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold has ruled against the politician’s motion to have the charges thrown out.

The ruling came from the trial judge in the case, retired Howard County Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney, who also presided over the corruption trials of former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon and Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen Holton. Sweeney also ruled against a motion by Leopold to have the charges severed since they occurred over different time periods.

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling and are moving forward with case preparation in anticipation of the September trial,” said Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Shelly S. Glenn.

Sweeney wrote that he agreed with the state’s argument that at this stage of the trial, the court needed to look at the indictment “on its face” and not take into account how hard it will be to prove the allegations or what defenses might arise.

“This is a generous standard favoring the State and such motions [to dismiss] are rarely granted in criminal cases,” Sweeney wrote.

Prosecutors had argued that there was nothing vague about the charges against Leopold, and that the common law crime of misconduct of office applied to Leopold’s position.

“There is nothing vague or difficult to understand here,” prosecutors wrote in a June 26 memo to the court. “Clearly, a public officer may not breach his public trust by converting public resources to his private benefit. The indictment in this case charges that the defendant, in a number of ways charged in separate counts, did precisely that.”

Leopold, 69, of Pasadena, was indicted by a state grand jury on March 2 for misusing state troopers assigned for his protection. The indictment claims Leopold had troopers remove his opponents’ political signs and empty his urine-filled catheter bag. He is also alleged to have used troopers to keep watch while he had sex with a county employee in commercial parking lots.

Leopold has denied the allegations.

The criminal trial is set to begin on Sept. 4 in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.