Delay in discovery leads to unprecedented sanctions

The Capital of Annapolis had a very interesting story the other day about how a postponement of a murder trial led to sanctions against the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office.

William McDonald was scheduled to be tried again this week for first-degree murder in connection with the 2006 shooting death of a former federal police officer outside an Odenton bar. His first trial, back in October, ended in a mistrial.

In February, Judge Paul F. Harris Jr. ordered Montgomery County police to turn over all of the information they had related to the case. But police “turned over only the information they thought was relevant,” about 200 pages, according to The Capital.

On the eve of trial, Anne Arundel county prosecutors discovered there were actually “volumes of additional information” in police custody, according to The Capital. McDonald’s defense attorney estimated there were “thousands of pages” both sides will have to review, according to The Capital.

The discovery of more discovery did not sit well with Harris, who “put much of the blame” on police but also pointed the finger at the lawyers, according to The Capital.

So Harris ordered the state’s attorney’s office to pay $1,620 to the court administrator for the cost of bringing in a jury pool for the trial, the first sanction of its kind against county prosecutors, according to The Capital.

State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess told the newspaper she would ask Montgomery County police to reimburse prosecutors for the money; Montgomery County police referred comments to their state’s attorney’s office, which also declined to comment.

The new trial date for McDonald is in early October, according to court records.

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