Prosecutor seeks delay in hearing Davis wants release on appeal

June 21, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

A Carroll prosecutor today will try to block Pamela Snowhite Davis' efforts to win release from state prison while she appeals a felony drug conviction involving less than an ounce of marijuana, court records and attorneys in the case said last week.

Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III, coordinator of the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force, filed a motion Friday asking Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Bruce C. Williams to postpone a hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today, where he will consider setting an appeal bond in Davis' case.

Mr. Walker -- who did not show up Thursday when the hearing was originally scheduled -- says in his postponment request that he "was not properly served with notice" and, because of that, he "was unable to appear and present evidence."

Davis' Westminster attorneys, Judith S. Stainbrook and Stephen P. Bourexis, requested the hearing Thursday morning. Because Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. had twice denied Davis' request for a hearing to consider an appeal bond, the attorneys filed their latest request in Anne Arundel County, where they believe they stand a better chance at a hearing.

Davis, 48, is serving two years of a five-year sentence for her March conviction on maintaining a common nuisance count, a felony. That trial was the result of a drug task force raid of her 80-acre Silver Run farm in which officers dressed as United Parcel Service employees and delivered a package containing marijuana. After a woman at the farm signed for the package, they raided the residence.

Davis is serving her sentence at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women at Jessup, allowing her lawyers to request the appeal bond hearing in Anne Arundel County instead of in Carroll County.

Davis' appeal of the "UPS Case," filed in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, could take up to a year. By that time, lawyers and court officials say, she could be up for parole and released from prison.

Judge Williams on Thursday could have sent the appeal bond request back to Carroll Circuit Court. Instead, he postponed the hearing until today to give Mr. Walker a chance to be present.

Mr. Walker says he needs more time.

"This is a complicated case which will require the presentation of evidence on several issues," Mr. Walker said in his postponement request.

He said he needed to call several witnesses who needed to be served with summonses. He also said that, because of the annual state's attorney's convention this week in Ocean City, half of Carroll's assistant state's attorneys will be out of town.

"The presence of an assistant state's attorney at this hearing . . . will impose a hardship on the Carroll state's attorney's office," he said in the postponement request. He also wrote that a delay in the hearing "will not impose a hardship on . . Pamela Snowhite Davis, as this request is not unreasonable."

Mr. Walker did not return calls to his electronic pager this weekend.

Mr. Bourexis and Ms. Stainbrook are going to fight the postponment, and, in an answer to Mr. Walker's request to be filed this morning in Anne Arundel Circuit Court, the lawyers call Mr. Walker's assertion that he wasn't properly served false.

"We told him about the filing, and we placed a certified copy of it" in the state's attorney's mail drop at the Carroll Courthouse, Mr. Bourexis said Saturday.

Davis has become an outspoken critic of the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force since the May 1992 raid on her farm. She has used her Westminster counterculture store, Liberation, as a soapbox of sorts to espouse the legalization of marijuana, and has started a grass-roots organization, Americans Against Marijuana Prohibition.

She and her supporters both recorded a victory -- their first in a Carroll courtroom -- on June 10, when she was acquitted on four drug counts stemming from a task force raid on Liberation in November. In the raid -- conducted the day before she was originally set to represent herself at trial in the "UPS Case" -- officers seized several pounds of sterile marijuana seeds.

In addition to that appeal, Davis has asked a three-judge panel to review the five-year sentence stemming from the case.

Her attorneys last week learned that Carroll District Judge Donald M. Smith and Carroll Circuit Judges Francis M. Arnold and Luke K. Burns Jr. were selected for the panel. The judges have not scheduled a date for the sentence review.

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