MVA woes catch up to Hutchinson Delegate fined $1,500 by judge

September 15, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

Calling her actions an example of "blatant irresponsibility," a Baltimore County judge yesterday fined Del. Leslie Hutchinson $1,500 and gave her a suspended jail term and three years of probation for driving with a suspended license and without insurance.

"She holds a position of responsibility in the community. People look up to her," District Judge A. Darrell Russell said in passing sentence on the Essex Democrat, who has compiled a history of bad debts and run-ins with motor vehicle authorities since she was elected to the House of Delegates in 1990.

After the trial, Ms. Hutchinson conferred with her attorney and family members, then said, "Certainly I've done some things wrong. I'm going to comply with the judge. I'm sorry for the embarrassment."

But Ms. Hutchinson's troubles with the Motor Vehicle Administration are not over.

She still owes the MVA $90 in penalty fees, and her registration is in the process of being suspended anew, an agency spokesman said late yesterday.

Including those fees, Ms. Hutchinson has been assessed more than $4,600 in traffic fines, penalties and late fees since she took office.

During that period she compiled a traffic record that includes seven failures to appear for trial and four suspensions of her driver's license. She also had no car insurance, which is compulsory in Maryland, for much of the time between March 1990 and July 1993.

Prosecutors in Essex District Court yesterday read an agreed-upon statement of facts relating that Ms. Hutchinson was stopped on April 22 driving her uninsured, unregistered car.

The car bore a 1970 House of Delegates license plate once legitimately used by her uncle, Donald P. Hutchinson, a former state legislator and county executive.

At first, Judge Russell thought Prosecutor Timothy M. Gunning had made a mistake about the year in which the tag was issued and asked several times whether Mr. Gunning meant 1990 instead of 1970.

He was assured that the tag was issued 23 years ago to Donald Hutchinson, then a state delegate and now incoming president of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

After reviewing Ms. Hutchinson's record, Judge Russell lectured her and Richard M. Karceski, her attorney, noting the prominence of her uncle and her father, P. David Hutchinson, in county politics.

'She must stand on her own'

"This [record] makes it very difficult to treat her as anyone else [would be treated]," Judge Russell said. "I know her dad and her uncle, and they are both fine people, but she must stand on her own."

In fact, he said, that if it were not for Mr. Karceski's efforts on her behalf, "She'd be going to jail."

Judge Russell rejected Mr. Karceski's request for probation before judgment on the most serious charge, driving without insurance, and found her guilty of both charges.

His decision sent Ms. Hutchinson's brother, David Macks Hutchinson, storming out of the courtroom with doors slamming.

He later said he was upset because he thought his sister should have been given probation before judgment, which would have left her with a clean record.

Instead, Judge Russell sentenced her to 60 days and fined her $500 for driving with a suspended license, and handed down a one-year jail term and a $1,000 fine for driving without insurance. He suspended both jail terms but warned Ms. Hutchinson that any new traffic citation during her three-year probationary period could reopen the possibility of jail time.

In addition to the fines imposed yesterday, Ms. Hutchinson earlier paid $550 in fines for three other citations she received when she was stopped April 22: driving an unregistered vehicle, driving with a suspended registration, and failing to notify the MVA of a change of address.

According to the statement of facts read in court, MVA investigator Robert Anderson spotted Ms. Hutchinson's black 1989 Chevrolet Cavalier convertible parked in the 500 block of Dorsey Ave. in Essex, displaying the 23-year-old House of Delegates tag.

Since the investigator knew her car and knew she had long been without insurance, he waited to see if the car was being driven. Ms. Hutchinson emerged from the house and drove the car a short distance to the 300 block of Lorraine Ave., where she and her son live with her grandmother.

MVA investigator moves in

Mr. Anderson confronted her there and took the license plate, while Ms. Hutchinson protested that she was "only picking up her son" and said she "was getting insurance."

Mr. Anderson issued citations for the MVA infractions and called a county police officer, who cited Ms. Hutchinson for driving on a suspended license.

She told the officer that "she just forgot to pay the fine," a reference to a series of incidents that began with one of her failures to appear in court in 1991.

That failure to appear resulted in a suspended license. On Nov. 22, 1991, she was given a traffic ticket for driving on that suspended license.

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