With Lawyer Guilty In Drug Case, Ex-client In Jail Wants A New Trial Attorney Accepted Drugs As Payment

October 31, 1990|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff writer

A Waterloo woman is asking for a new trial on drug charges because her attorney was convicted last week of taking illegal drugs from another client, her new lawyer said.

The lawyer for Theresa Stallard, 29, of the 6800 block of Old Waterloo Road, was convicted last week in Howard County District Court of illegal possession of narcotics.

Stallard's new lawyer, Clarke F. Ahlers, said he believes Robert Jacques Amos, 33, was ineffective as Stallard's attorney "because apparently he was engaged in criminal conduct" while he represented her.

"The allegation is that he took drugs for payment," Ahlers said Monday.

Stallard filed a motion in April seeking a new trial in Howard County Circuit Court after being sentenced to 10 years without parole on a drug distribution conviction.

A hearing on Stallard's request for a new trial, scheduled for yesterday, was postponed to Dec. 13 because Ahlers was ill and could not appear in court.

Amos, whose law office is in Baltimore, was convicted of unlawful possession of the prescription pain-killer Percocet after a monthlong investigation by the state police and the state attorney general's office this spring.

During Amos' one-day trial on Oct. 23, prosecutors provided evidence from video and audio tapes that Amos had told his client, who is Stollard's sister, to place a vial of the drug in his briefcase while they were inside a District Court courtroom.

On his way out of the court house, Amos was arrested by state police, who found the drugs in his briefcase, according to Christopher J. Romano, an assistant state attorney general who prosecuted the case.

Amos is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 18 before District Court Judge R.

Russell Sadler. The maximum penalty is four years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Stollard's sister, Geneva Hitchens of Anne Arundel County, had hired Amos to represent her on a disorderly conduct charge scheduled for a June 19 trial. She told state police before her trial in Howard County that Amos was willing to take Percocet in exchange for legal services, Romano said.

Stallard, who is now serving her sentence at the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women in Jessup, was arrested and charged with distribution of a a controlled dangerous substance, conspiracy to distribute and possession of a controlled dangerous substance after selling PCP to an undercover county police detective on Jan. 25 and Feb. 2, 1989, court records show.

She pleaded guilty on Nov. 6, 1989, to one distribution charge; Howard County Circuit Court Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. sentenced her to 10 years without parole on April 17, 1990. Stallard was already incarcerated when the investigation of Amos took place.

Stallard had two prior convictions for drug distribution -- one in Baltimore City in 1988 and one in Anne Arundel County in 1987. She was on probation for the 1988 conviction when she sold PCP out of her home to the undercover police officer in 1989.

Assistant State's Attorney Timothy J. McCrone, who is prosecuting Stallard's case, said that to get a new trial, Stallard would have to show that Amos was ineffective as her lawyer because he was impaired by the illegal substance while representing her.

He said whether Amos took drugs from a client would probably not be enough to result in a new trial. "I think they will have to prove his judgment was altered" to get a new trial, McCrone said.

McCrone added that since Stallard had two pending drug distribution charges here, plus two prior convictions, she could have fared worse had she gone to trial and been convicted.

"She could have gotten even more than 10 years," he said. He noted that some drug dealers with similar criminal histories have recently been sentenced to more than the 10 years mandatory for second-time convictions.

The state could argue that Amos gave her good advice by recommending she plead guilty to one distribution charge in return for 10 years, he said.

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