Convicted Lawyer Given Probation Before Judgment Judge Orders Community Service In Drug Case

December 23, 1990

A Baltimore lawyer convicted of accepting drugs from a client was granted probation before judgment Tuesday by District Court Judge R. Russell Sadler.

A sentence of probation before judgment means the judge sets aside the conviction.

Robert J. Amos, 33, who was convicted in October in Howard County District Court of illegal possession of narcotics, also was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, participate in a 26-week drug education program and was placed under 36 months of supervised probation.

"What I did was very wrong. I put myself in a position of agreeing to accept Percocet from a client," Amos said at the hearing. "It's been a source of embarrassment for me. I feel like I've let the court system down.

I've brought a lot of shame to the profession by doing what I did."

Amos was convicted of unlawful possession of the painkiller Percocet after a month-long investigation by the state police and the state attorney general's office this spring.

Prosecutors found that Amos had told his client, Geneva 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.

Assistant state attorney general Christopher J. Romano, who prosecuted Amos' case, recommended to Sadler that Amos be given a one-year sentence in the Howard County Detention Center with all but one day suspended "to send a message to attorneys who violate the law."

"He instructed a client to do that," Romano said. "He has brought disgrace to himself and his profession."

Since his Oct. 2 conviction, Amos quit his job with a Baltimore law firm and is now waiting tables to support his family. He said his salary has been cut in half.

At his sentencing hearing, Amos said that Percocet had been prescribed to him over several years for various medical problems. Amos has used the drug to relieve pain caused by back problems since he was 16 and injuries he suffered when he was hit by a car three years ago.

He said he has never used Percocet as a recreational drug.

Amos' acceptance of Percocet from Hitchens led her sister, Theresa Stallard, who was also represented by Amos, to request a new trial on the grounds that she received ineffective counsel from Amos.

Theresa Stallard was arrested after selling PCP to an undercover county police detective Jan. 25 and Feb. 2, 1989. With Amos as her counsel, Stallard pleaded guilty to one distribution charge last November and was sentenced to 10 years without parole in April by Circuit Court Judge Raymond J. Kane.

Last week Kane denied Stallard's request for a new trial, saying that she hadn't received ineffective counsel from Amos.

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