Editor's note: It took 16 months, but the state's special prosecutorhas completed his investigation into allegations that State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman improperly released a police report detailing a drug search of a car belonging to the former campaign chairman of hisrival in the bitter 1990 campaign. While the report says no laws were broken, the prosecutor did say Hickman released the report for "political advantage" and caused Scott W. Markle to be depicted "as a criminal without benefit of a trial." However, the prosecutor declined to recommend action, saying the case was "a quagmire which we do not choose to enter." He said Markle could take other action, such as filing a civil suit. We have been asking readers if they agree with the report, if they believe Hickman and/or Markle are cleared, if the prosecutor took too long completing his probe and if he took the easy wayout by choosing not to enter the quagmire. Here are some of their replies:
From: Mollie F. Mooney
1. Do you agree with this report?
I would say no based on available information; however, I do not have access to all the facts and evidence.
2. Do you believe Hickman is cleared?
Definitely not. If he is not legally liable, then it would appear that he has abused the powers of his office and the civil/legal rights of Markle.
How can anyone accept or condone his actions under a "political advantage" explanation? After all, this is America, where noperson is supposed to be above the law. America is not a police state.
Hickman's actions would indicate that he does not follow the laws and regulations he was elected to enforce through the court system. Are there other incidents where he has abused the powers of his office?
3. What about Markle?
I have always believed that Markle was innocent of the allegations/charges.
The report, however, really does not clear him because on the one hand they indicate that "no laws were broken" and on the other hand say "Markle could take other action, such as filing a civil suit."
I hope that Markle does file a civil suit and receives the justice and fairness he deserves.
4.Did the prosecutor take too long completing his probe?
Yes. I cannot understand why it would have taken so long unless it is politicaland the timing of the release (in view of the primary election) would further the suspicion of politics being involved.
5. Did he takethe easy way out by choosing not to enter the quagmire?
Yes. If it had been someone outside the legal prosecutor system, I think they would have chosen to enter the quagmire.
From: Allen Passman
Answers to your five questions concerning the Hickman-Markle report are shown below along with some questions pertaining to the criminal reporting "system" now being used in Carroll County.
1. Until the Hickman-Markle report becomes readily available to thepublic, it is impossible to indicate any level of agreement or disagreement with it in true detail.
2. As to the matter of clearing Hickman, there is no way to clear, excuse or exonerate Hickman's contemptible actions.
3. The suggestion that Hickman merely apologize and Markle accept so the books on this incident can be closed leaves open the likelihood that Hickman can repeat his irresponsible behavior whenever he feels churlish or vindictive.
Inasmuch as no charge against Markle was substantiated and Hickman admitted that he was awareof this when he released the police report, Markle should bring every available charge that he can against Hickman.
4. Any probe that takes 16 months to produce a report on a matter in which the facts are cut and dried, i.e., that the state's attorney publicly released a criminal report on a citizen that he knew to be innocent of the charges contained therein, is obviously too long a time.
What valid excuse can be offered for such foot-dragging?
5. State Special Prosecutor Montanarelli's failure to file misconduct charges against Hickman comes perilously close to nonfeasance. The question of possible "quid pro quo" also arises.
Some investigative reporting concerning the cause of Markle's arrest is in order. What prompted the police to arrest him? If it was the result of an anonymous "tip," then none of us is safe.
If it was a "tip" from an known informant, what action(s) were taken since the "tip" was fallacious? If no such punitive action ensued, then what prevents such blatant and baseless reports from being made against any of us?
Apparently, in Carroll County, little or nothing is being done by the police, by the state's attorney or by the state special prosecutor!
INACCURACIES IN REVIEW
From: Josh Selzer
I'd like to take exception to some of the fallacies in Tim Weinfeld's review of "Reckless," the play I recently directed at Western Maryland College (Carroll County Sun, March 4,"Audience left adrift in WMC's 'Reckless' ").
I'll stick completely with the facts since any other comments I might make would be dismissed as "sour grapes."
Mr. Weinfeld states that "the play was written to be performed without an intermission. . . It was a mistake tohave one."
I am enclosing a page from Mr. Lucas' script that clearly states where intermission is to be taken. If Mr. Weinfeld has some concrete proof refuting what is made clear in Lucas' own script concerning intermission, I'd like to see it.
If not, I demand a retraction from The Sun.
Mr. Weinfeld discusses Craig Lucas' career at length and notes that Mr. Lucas wrote the screenplay for the film, "Longtime Companions." The correct title of the film is "Longtime Companion."
Mr. Weinfeld states that the character of Pooty may or may not be a deaf paraplegic. It is evident, both in the script and in the WMC production, that Pooty is paraplegic but is not deaf.
Finally, Mr. Weinfeld says that I earned an MFA at California Institute forthe Arts. The correct name of the school is California Institute of the Arts.