Baltimore jurist assails judges who cut sentence

December 19, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

A Baltimore judge is blasting three of his colleagues for reducing the sentence he gave to a man convicted on drug charges.

In a memorandum to the three judges on a panel that reduced the man's prison sentence from 40 years to 20, Baltimore Circuit Judge John C. Themelis wrote:

"It is truly unfortunate that you have unanimously decided to reduce this 'trusted drug lieutenant's' sentence in half knowing he was on parole for an armed robbery when the present offense was committed, and knowing that he had a substantial criminal record. When arrested in this case, he was in 'constructive possession' of cocaine with a street value of [$45,000 to $65,000] and in a car with a person armed with a loaded gun.

"I do not understand your reasoning except that without reviewing the demeanor and credibility of those who testified before me, you each decided to arbitrarily substitute your judgment for mine."

The memo is contained in the court file for Gregory Evans, 37, of the 2000 block of Edmondson Ave., who was found guilty in 1990 of two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, two counts of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and one count of conspiracy to possess cocaine.

Court records show that Evans had more than 8 ounces of cocaine when arrested.

Judge Edward J. Angeletti twice sentenced Evans to 40 years in prison, but the state's Court of Special Appeals twice threw out those sentences. After the second sentence was overturned, the appeals court ordered that Evans be sentenced before a different judge.

On Sept. 1, Judge Themelis sentenced Evans to two 20-year terms, to be served consecutively. According to his memo, the judge read the entire transcript for the case and a presentence report and presided over a lengthy sentencing hearing in which the defendant, the prosecutor and a sergeant from the $l Southeastern District's narcotics unit spoke.

After being sentenced by Judge Themelis, Evans filed a petition for a reduced sentence in which he said he was employed and drug-free when arrested and that he has obtained a graduate equivalency diploma. The petition states that Evans "was not a major player in this case," and his role was to deliver money and receive drugs, which were given to his co-defendant.

On Nov. 30 a panel made up of judges Roger W. Brown, Elsbeth L. Bothe and Mabel E. H. Hubbard changed the sentence to two 20-year concurrent terms.

The panel's order notes that the judges considered points raised in Evans' petition.

In his memo, dated Dec. 3, Judge Themelis said Evans' arrest record included a 1975 burglary, three thefts and a 1984 robbery.

Judge Themelis also wrote that the review was illegal because more than one trial judge had sentenced Evans.

That point was also made in a motion filed Wednesday by Salvatore Fili, the prosecutor in the case. In asking that the review panel's sentence be declared illegal, Mr. Fili argued that Evans was entitled to only one review of his sentence. Judge Angeletti's first sentence had been upheld by a review panel that included Judge Hubbard, court records show.

Judge Bothe and Judge Hubbard declined to comment on Judge Themelis' memo.

Of Judge Themelis' conclusions, Judge Brown said, "They're wrong." He would not elaborate, saying that he planned to respond directly to Judge Themelis.

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