After 5 months, his day in court Man was held in city jail on probation violation charge

August 19, 1991|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Evening Sun Staff Jay Merwin contributed to this story.

After languishing in jail without a trial for more than five months on a charge of violating probation, Robert Seymour was to get his day in court today.

Seymour has been held in the Baltimore city jail since March after being arrested for violating his probation on traffic charges, according to Leonard A. Sipes Jr., a jail spokesman.

District Court officials scheduled four trial dates for Seymour since March but jail officials never brought him to court, Sipes said.

The mix-up apparently happened because the court and the jail were using different first and middle names for Seymour, although his last name was always correct, Sipes said.

Sipes said Seymour was arrested New Year's Day 1987 for five traffic violations -- two counts of failure to obey a traffic light, failure to use a seat belt, possession of a suspended license and driving with a suspended license.

In April 1987, a traffic court judge sentenced Seymour to three years' probation, Sipes said. When he failed to report to his probation officer, the Division of Parole and Probation sought a warrant for his arrest.

Baltimore police arrested Seymour on March 10, 1991, Sipes said. Failing to meet the $7,500 bond, Seymour went to the city jail the next day.

Seymour was due to go to District Court in Baltimore today.

Seymour's case emerged in the wake of the release of Martin R. Henn, the 54-year-old homeless man who had been held for more than a year without a trial on an arson charge. Officials at the jail said they have discovered that as many as 93 men were being held at the jail without court dates scheduled. Nearly all of those prisoners now have trials or court appearances scheduled, Sipes said.

The state of Maryland took over the jail July 1, as a way of easing Baltimore's financial crunch. Soon thereafter, state officials began searching the jail's records to see how many of the approximately 2,800 inmates did not have court dates.

State officials have said the city's old records were inadequate and have pledged to overhaul the jail's operations.

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