Hayden presents package of bills

December 22, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden wants to send more juveniles charged with crimes to adult courts, charge county jail inmates to see the doctor and make it easier to convict residents charged with zoning violations.

The requests are included in the package of bills the county administration has prepared for the 1994 General Assembly session. That there is a package at all shows how much things have changed this year.

Last year, Mr. Hayden's main goal was to avoid any further state damage to the county's ailing budget. However, after a relatively stable nine months, Mr. Hayden wants a little more from Annapolis than just to be left alone.

During crime forums held throughout the county this year, Mr. Hayden heard repeated complaints about crimes committed by teens who are not old enough to be tried as adults under Maryland law, said administration lobbyist Pat Roddy.

One of the proposed bills would automatically send any 16- or 17-year-old in Maryland to adult court for an alleged crime involving sex or violence. The current standard only covers handgun crimes or murder.

The Maryland State's Attorneys' Association is promoting a similar bill, according to Howard B. Merker, deputy state's attorney for Baltimore County. That bill would send older juveniles charged with any felony to adult court.

Under Mr. Hayden's second bill, juveniles convicted in adult court would thereafter automatically be considered adults under the law. That, Mr. Roddy said, "would shift the burden from the state's attorney to the defense." Defense lawyers could seek a waiver to send their clients back to juvenile court for minor offenses, instead of the state having to seek a waiver to adult court, he said.

Mr. Merker said he supports the concept of both bills, but wonders about the details of the second measure, which he said could snare some teens for minor offenses.

George M. Lipman, chief of the state Public Defender's mental health division, said the proposals were "bad ideas." The current practice in which juvenile defendants are evaluated by trained juvenile court judges before being waived to adult court is better than a blanket, automatic waiver, he said.

"Why take away from a judge this discretion?" he asked.

He also said the bills might not have the desired effect. Teens in adult court are more likely to get probation and consequently less supervision than they would receive in juvenile court, he argued.

Mr. Hayden's proposed zoning bill would simply change the standard of proof required in District Court from "beyond a reasonable doubt," which is used in criminal cases, to "a preponderance of evidence," which is the standard in civil cases. County zoning administrator Arnold Jablon suggested this bill to help inspectors enforce county zoning laws.

Charging jail inmates for doctor visits isn't intended to raise money, Mr. Roddy said. The idea is to reduce the number of frivolous requests to see a doctor. No one would be kept from seeing a doctor, but inmates with money in their jail accounts would be charged $5 to $10. Return visits would be free as would referrals by guards or jail staff.

Jail medical bills are rising, and now cost $2 million a year, Mr. Roddy said. "The choice would normally be between candy bar money and seeing a doctor," he said.

Mr. Hayden also wants to save the county $42,000 by eliminating the system of county-based driving classes for bad drivers, said Mr. Roddy. The state offers the same service.

Three bond bills seek state money to pay most of the costs of three waterfront projects. The county is seeking half of the $1 million needed to restore White Marsh Run stream between Interstate 95 and Route 7 and wants to build stone breakwaters on Hart-Miller Island beaches to prevent erosion. The county also wants money to dig up chromium-tainted land under Stansbury Park in Dundalk.

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