A convicted drug dealer who claims she didn't receive effective representation from her lawyer because he accepted drugs as payment from his clients was denied her request for a new trial Thursday by a Circuit Court judge.
Theresa Stallard, 29, who is serving a sentence of 10 years without parole on drug distribution charges, requested a new trial shortly after her conviction in April, alleging that her lawyer accepted illegal drugs from her while she was his client.
The lawyer, Robert Jacques Amos, was convicted in October in Howard County District Court of illegal possession of narcotics. But Circuit Judge Raymond J. Kane said he was not convinced that Amos had accepted drugs from Stallard while he was representing her or that she had received ineffective counsel from Amos.
"He went to the state's attorney and got the best deal that he could get," said Kane, who presided at Stallard's trial.
"It would be unconscionable for me as a trial judge to allow a guilty plea from an individual I didn't think was doing so with a clear mind or from counsel who wasn't alert," he said.
Stallard was arrested and charged with distribution of 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.
She pleaded guilty to one distribution charge last November, and was sentenced to 10 years without parole in April by Kane.
"There's something fundamentally erroneous about this moral high road that Theresa Stallard is on," Assistant State's Attorney Timothy J. McCrone said at Thursday's hearing.
"She's a drug dealer trying to get a new trial because she dealt drugs to someone else," he said. "It's a case that hinges on credibility and Theresa Stallard has none. She lost it a long time ago. She's got nothing to lose. Why not lie?"
Stallard had two prior convictions for drug distribution -- one in Anne Arundel County in 1987 and one in Baltimore City in 1988. Amos represented her in both cases.
Given her record, Stallard was facing a sentence "well in excess of 40 years," McCrone said.
To get a new trial, Stallard would have had to show that Amos was ineffective as her lawyer because he was impaired by the illegal substance while representing her.
Stallard's new attorney, Clarke F. Ahlers, argued at the hearing that the length of her sentence was not the issue at hand.
"You have to consider the process by which a person gets legal assistance, not just the outcome," he said. "There is evidence that Jacques Amos accepted a controlled dangerous substance from an accused person he was representing."
Amos, whose law office is in Baltimore, was convicted of unlawful possession of the prescription painkiller Percocet after a month-long investigation by the state police and the state attorney general's office this spring.
Law enforcement officials were tipped off after Stallard's sister, Geneva Hitchens, told state police that Amos was willing to take Percocet in exchange for legal services. Amos was representing Hitchens on a disorderly conduct charge scheduled for a June 19 trial.
Prosecutors found that Amos had told Hitchens to place a vial of the drug in his briefcase while they were inside a District Court courtroom. On his way out of the courthouse, Amos was arrested by state police, who found the drugs in his briefcase.
He 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.