In 1993, Baltimore defense attorney William H. "Billy" Murphy Jr. had no trouble convincing Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge Bruce C. Williams to release his client Pamela Snowhite Davis from prison while she appealed her conviction for marijuana possession.
"There is a sense of proportionality we have all learned that is lost up there. . . . This isn't Carroll County. This is America," Mr. Murphy said.
Jonathan T. Jarboe, a 23-year-old black resident of Westminster, is a recent recipient of Carroll County's special brand of criminal justice.
Arrested as a suspect in the armed robbery of $150 from a pizza delivery man, Mr. Jarboe had to wait 395 days -- of which 179 were spent in jail -- before the county state's attorney's office eventually dropped the charges against him.
From the beginning, it was quite clear that prosecutors built the case on a bed of sand. They were relying heavily on the testimony of Angela Bailey, the suspect's former girlfriend, who told police that he had boasted of committing the crime. There was one problem with her testimony: While she would finger Mr. Jarboe for the police, Ms. Bailey made it very clear that she would not testify in court.
Prosecutors had another big problem. The victim could not identify Mr. Jarboe. Nonetheless, Carroll's intrepid prosecutors brought charges against him.
Mr. Jarboe was jailed Oct. 14, 1993, after failing to post the $50,000 bail. Originally, the case was to have been tried in District Court, but Barton F. Walker III, the assistant state's attorney handling the case, presented it to the grand jury.
Between the time of Mr. Jarboe's indictment -- Nov. 4, 1993 -- and the time prosecutors dropped charges against him -- Nov. 14, 1994 -- there were at least three occasions when judges should have questioned the prosecutor's ability to proceed with this case.
L The first occurred April 18, 1994, the day before the trial.
Mr. Walker notified Circuit Court Judge Raymond Beck Sr. that Ms. Bailey could not be located and asked for a postponement.
Judge Beck, as is his practice, sided with the prosecutors and delayed the case. At this point, Mr. Jarboe, still an innocent man under the law, had spent 118 days in jail.
The second opportunity came May 11, when the state asked for a waiver of Maryland's Hicks rule, which requires that criminal defendants be tried within 180 days after their attorneys appear in court.
Rather than hold a hearing on whether sufficient reason existed to postpone the case, Judge Beck ruled in favor of the prosecutors.
By this time, the state accused Mr. Jarboe of intimidating Angela Bailey. Even though Ms. Bailey had indicated from the beginning that she would not testify in court, Mr. Walker had no trouble convincing Judge Beck that she had failed to appear because of Mr. Jarboe's alleged threats. Because witness intimidation is a serious charge, bail was set at $500,000.
It is interesting to note that on June 24, 1994, when a hearing was held to consolidate the charges of robbery and intimidating a witness, Judge Beck revealed the extent to which the deck is stacked against defendants in Carroll County.
Ruling in favor of consolidating the cases, Judge Beck said: "The separate offenses are unquestionably linked by a common motive." Even though the burden of proof rests on the prosecution, Judge Beck willingly accepted its allegations as fact.
Mr. Jarboe languished in jail until July 7, 1994, the second scheduled trial date. It was also was the third opportunity for an impartial judge to force the prosecution to try the case.
But Circuit Court Judge Francis Arnold acquiesced to the prosecution's demands for yet another postponement. Again, it was because Ms. Bailey, the prosecution's main -- and apparently only -- witness, did not show.
By now it was clear Mr. Walker might be as responsible as Mr. Jarboe for Ms. Bailey's going into hiding. To bolster its contention that Mr. Jarboe was responsible for intimidating Ms. Bailey, Mr. Walker entered an undated note Ms. Bailey allegedly sent to her parents.
"It's sad to see that this is really how this country operates and sad that a------- like Bart Walker are in office. . . . but hopefully someday Bart will rot in hell and I can come home," she also wrote in the note. Considering the vehemence of those words, Judge Arnold would have been justified in asking whether there was any prospect of Ms. Bailey testifying. Unfortunately, Judge Arnold never asked that question.
Instead, he granted the state another postponement. He also kept Mr. Jarboe in jail. Even though Mr. Jarboe had yet to be convicted of any crime, he had spent 154 days in jail -- almost one day for every dollar he allegedly had stolen.
At a subsequent hearing, Mr. Walker admitted that Mr. Jarboe could not have made an intimidating phone call from the jail because he was nowhere near the phone.
In October, Martha Ann Sitterding, Mr. Jarboe's public defender, filed a motion to dismiss the charges for lack of prosecution. Once again, Judge Beck sided with the prosecution. The trial was set for Nov. 14.
Mr. Jarboe showed up for trial. Mr. Walker didn't appear but sent a note saying the state was dismissing the charges. An innocent man, Mr. Jarboe had spent 179 days in jail.
Only in Carroll County could this failure of due process have been tolerated.
Brian Sullam is The Baltimore Sun's editorial writer in Carroll County.