Defense moves to disqualify jury pool Prosecutor's revelation in prior case cited

January 13, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

The defense lawyer for a twice-convicted cocaine dealer moved yesterday to disqualify the entire January jury panel from the man's trial on a new set of drug-dealing charges in Carroll Circuit Court.

The lawyer claimed his client can't get a fair trial from any of the Carroll residents already called for jury duty this month.

The potential jurors already have a "predisposition against innocence" and are unable to render a fair verdict, Assistant Public Defender Edward T. Barry said in a motion filed in the drug case against Noland Maurice Rheubottom of Westminster.

Mr. Barry's motion came a week after prosecutors revealed suppressed evidence to trial jurors who acquitted a foster mother of abusing her 15-year-old foster son in an unrelated case.

By sharing that evidence -- a confession and a personal diary with explicit entries about activities involving the woman and the boy -- Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III tainted all potential jurors that may be called to serve on criminal trials this month, the motion says.

"This action impugns on the integrity of the tribunal and tends to influence the jurors' actions in future jury service," the motion says. "It leads a reasonable juror to speculate as to the existence of additional evidence."

Mr. Walker is prosecuting the Rheubottom case.

Rheubottom, who has been convicted twice of dealing cocaine, is scheduled for trial Monday on new cocaine possession and distribution charges. He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years withoutparole if convicted.

Mr. Barry asked Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold to dismiss the potential jurors and replace them with a new set. The current jury panel is on call for a month.

The defense attorney also requested individual questioning for any potential juror in the case, a move usually reserved for capital cases.

Mr. Barry filed an identical motion in a first-degree rape case scheduled for trial next Thursday.

Mr. Walker declined to comment on the motion last night.

"The issue is fairness to my client," Mr. Barry said. "And an impartial jury is important to fairness."

Rheubottom, 26, faces multiple drug possession and distribution charges in the current case. He was arrested June 19 when the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force raided his apartment and seized more than half an ounce of cocaine, $4,400, hand-held scales, a telephone pager and other electronic items.

The defendant also told police that if he had lots of money, "I wouldn't be doing stuff like selling drugs," court records show.

None of the evidence was suppressed from Rheubottom's trial.

In the child abuse case, the foster mother was acquitted at the end of a 2 1/2 day trial. Mr. Walker, talking to jurors after the verdict, asked them how they arrived at their decision.

"They told me that they believed something transpired between the parties, but they felt they couldn't convict her with the evidence in the courtroom," he said at the time. One of the jurors asked about additional evidence, and was told of the suppressed confession and diary.

Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. had ruled last October that both pieces of evidence were illegally obtained and could not be used at trial.

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