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Court of Special Appeals upholds cops’ convictions in drop-off cases

The Court of Special Appeals has affirmed the misconduct convictions of two Baltimore police officers who picked up two teenagers in an unmarked van while on patrol and dropped them off miles from their homes — one of them without socks or shoes.

The two officers, Tyrone Francis and Milton Smith, were indicted on charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault in the second degree, conspiracy and misconduct in office. The city’s top prosecutor, State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein, played an active role in the trial in Baltimore City Circuit Court last year.

The jury acquitted the officers of all crimes except misconduct and the court sentenced them to 18 months of confinement, all suspended, and 18 months probation.

The officers appealed the decision, saying state made improper and prejudicial remarks in its closing argument, failed to reveal inconsistent witness statements prior to the trial, improperly instructed the jury on the crime of misconduct in office, and made other errors.

The Court of Special Appeals said in its opinion, issued Nov. 21, that the lower court did not make any prejudicial errors, and affirmed the jury’s verdict.

The published opinion in the case, Francis and Smith v. State, CSA No. 0908, Sept. Term 2011, is available on the court’s website.