Judge removes himself from trial

June 29, 1994|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Darren M. Allen contributed to this story.

The trial of a former state health official on burglary charges -- already postponed from May until November -- could be further delayed by Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr.'s decision to recuse himself from the case.

Judge Beck said yesterday that he removed himself from the bench for the Nov. 2 trial because he had "almost daily contact" with the official, former Deputy Health Secretary John Martin Staubitz Jr., during the judge's six-year stint in the state Senate.

Judge Beck served in the state House of Delegates from 1972 to 1982 and in the Senate from 1983 until 1989. As a senator, he sat on the committee that oversaw Staubitz's work in the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Staubitz, who in April was convicted in a Baltimore County housebreaking spree, faces more than 30 charges stemming from four similar burglaries in Carroll County last summer.

In the Baltimore County case, Robert Ernest Emmons Jr. testified that he was Staubitz's accomplice in the burglaries. Emmons, 29, said he befriended Staubitz in prison while the former government official was serving time for skimming money from the Maryland State Games.

Staubitz's trial was delayed last month after he replaced his Westminster defense lawyer, Frank D. Coleman, with Towson attorney Richard Karceski.

Mr. Karceski said Mr. Coleman had failed to ask for separate trials on each of the break-ins.

Judge Beck said yesterday that he had told Mr. Karceski of his ties to the defendant.

When the attorney later asked Staubitz whether he would be comfortable with the judge presiding, Staubitz said he would not.

In a letter to Judge Beck last week, Mr. Karceski indicated that the trial, scheduled for Nov. 2, could also conflict with a death penalty case the attorney has in Anne Arundel County.

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