Trouble seems to just follow Bel Air lawyer

March 30, 1995|By MICHAEL OLESKER

"Trouble?" asks Stuart Alison's secretary, sounding genuinely surprised. "In court?"

Yes, trouble, she's told. She's being asked about these two criminal convictions in Harford County District Court last week, where Alison, the bizarre Bel Air attorney, was found guilty of harassing a fellow attorney and, just for good measure, of jacklighting deer while carrying a weapon.

Jacklighting deer means shining a light in the animals' eyes, to freeze them with fear, thus making it easier to shoot them. Alison was carrying a 12-gauge shotgun at the time. This was pure coincidence, Alison declared. He didn't want to shoot them. He said he didn't even know the gun was loaded.

"Oh, that trouble," Alison's secretary says now.

Maybe such things slipped her mind because they happen with a certain frequency for the 50-year-old Alison. For last week's deer problem, he was fined $120 and had his hunting license suspended and his shotgun confiscated. For harassing the fellow attorney, sentencing has been postponed pending an investigation. There's a lot to investigate.

The fellow attorney is James Close, who testified in court that Alison has been bothering him since the late 1980s, after the two men shared a law office. Back then, Alison said Close owed him money, and filed suit against him. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals called the suit "absurd," and instead turned the tables and ordered Alison to pay Close $6,700.

Close says Alison hasn't stopped harassing him since. The courts have agreed over and over. Once, a few years ago, Baltimore County Circuit Judge J. Norris Byrnes took note of a letter Alison sent to Close, referring to Close as "Mafia lawyer scum."

A disgusted Judge Byrnes told Alison, "I gather this is something that you enjoy. That you like doing this. . . . You seem to do it a lot and get into hassles with everybody you come into contact with. I guess that is your business."

Byrnes was only touching a small part of Stuart Alison's weird history. Consider a few episodes from Court of Appeals records:

Once, after Alison and his wife separated, he followed her car through Bel Air until she stopped at a red light. He tried to $H forcibly remove her from the car. When she refused, he grabbed a hammer and broke his wife's windshield. Then he pulled her out and was pushing her into the back seat of his own car when police arrived and stopped him. They found a handgun and 50 rounds of hollow-point ammunition in his car.

Twice, Alison put bags of trash on his wife's front porch. Once, a Bel Air policeman spotted him. The two fought. Alison was convicted of hindering the policeman.

Once, entering court to answer contempt charges, he refused to submit to a pat-down search. Asked by a judge to cooperate, he still refused. Five deputy sheriffs were required to accomplish the search, and then they handcuffed Alison and carried him into court, where Alison loudly cursed the judge and an opposing attorney.

Two years ago, when they suspended his license for 90 days, the Court of Appeals cited "a campaign of disrespect, abuse and intimidation. It made no difference if the person were a friend, relative, newspaper reporter, police officer, fellow lawyer or judge."

In a 1993 Harford County insurance case, District Judge Cypert O. Whitfill called Alison's conduct "intended to inflame and prejudice the jury . . . outside the bounds of appropriate professional conduct." In Baltimore that year, Circuit Judge Thomas E. Noel cited "incredible and outrageous" allegations made by Alison "with the sole intention of harassing honest business people," and ordered him to pay $20,000 in fees.

Two years ago Alison, a former assistant state's attorney in Harford County and one-time candidate for state's attorney, was asked about his history of troubles. He shrugged them off, declaring, "Nothing serious. Business is better than ever."

Yesterday, a spokesman for Maryland's Attorney Grievance Commission said the commission was aware of Alison's history, including "practicing law (five known times) while he was still on 90-day suspension" in 1989. The spokesman said the commission would not comment on his current troubles.

Alison was unavailable for comment yesterday. His secretary said he was on a plane, headed for a vacation "out of the country."

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