Failed suit against drug unit 'victory for lawyers'

November 19, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Stephen P. Bourexis' failed $10.5 million lawsuit against the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force was actually a victory for "any lawyer in the state of Maryland," the Westminster defense attorney said in a request for more than $13,000 in attorney's fees from the anti-drug unit.

The failed lawsuit, filed in June 1992, accused the drug task force of blackballing Mr. Bourexis and his clients from any plea negotiations. Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. dismissed the suit. The Court of Special Appeals upheld the dismissal and, last month, the Court of Appeals declined to hear Mr. Bourexis' appeal.

In his request for attorney's fees -- filed late Wednesday in Carroll Circuit Court -- Mr. Bourexis said that though the appellate courts declined to reverse Judge Beck's decision, "the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force is no longer engaging in the activity complained of as a direct result of the opinion by the Court of Special Appeals."

In upholding Judge Beck's dismissal of the lawsuit, the appellate court warned the task force against deliberately barring any class of person from plea agreements and other consideration.

Because of that warning -- and the task force's apparent abandonment of its anti-Bourexis policy -- Mr. Bourexis "is thus the prevailing party in this case because it was necessary for him to file in order to bring about this change in policy," the lawyer's request for fees said.

Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III, the task force coordinator, declined to comment yesterday. In earlier interviews, however, Mr. Walker denied Mr. Bourexis' claims of being blackballed.

The first public suggestion of a task force policy that might have discriminated against clients of Mr. Bourexis came during a pretrial motions hearing in 1992. A task force officer testifying at the hearing said it was "common knowledge" that he and others on the drug squad didn't like working with Mr. Bourexis.

Mr. Bourexis is asking for about $13,300 from the task force to pay his lawyers in the case. He was represented by his law partner, Judith S. Stainbrook, and by Baltimore attorney Robin P. West.

Reached yesterday, Ms. Stainbrook declined to comment.

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