Howard prosecutor assigned to Burns' traffic court trial Judge allegedly drove with suspended license

February 26, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A special prosecutor from Howard County has been assigned to handle the traffic court trial of Luke K. Burns Jr., a Carroll County Circuit Court judge accused of driving while his license was suspended.

A visiting judge -- one who does not know Burns and who sits on the bench outside of District 10, which encompasses Howard and Carroll counties -- will be assigned to preside at the March 12 trial, to be heard in the District Court of Carroll County.

Christine B. Gage, supervising assistant state's attorney in Howard County, said yesterday that a petition filed by the Carroll state's attorney requesting a special prosecutor had been granted. She said the Burns case would be given to prosecutor Stephen Musselman.

Jerry F. Barnes, the state's attorney for Carroll County, said yesterday that his request for a special prosecutor was routine.

"All appearances of impropriety must be avoided," Barnes said. "We made the request and have sent the prosecutor's file in the case to Howard County."

Musselman said yesterday that he had not received the case file, but understood that it was on its way.

Burns declined to comment.

According to court, police and state Motor Vehicle Administration records, Burns received a speeding ticket in Baltimore County on Aug. 11, 1995, for driving 78 mph in a 50 mph zone on Route 140.

After Burns twice failed to appear for trial in Owings Mills -- on Jan. 16, 1996, and Feb. 8, 1996 -- the MVA suspended his driver's license.

In December, Burns was involved in a minor traffic accident in Westminster and was charged with driving with a suspended license, negligent driving and failure to control vehicle speed on a highway.

If convicted on the latter charge, he could be sentenced to six months in jail, a $500 fine and receive three points on his driving record.

MVA records show that Burns received two points on his driving record for exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph in the 1995 incident.

Last month, Burns paid a $110 fine for the 1995 ticket, and the MVA reinstated his license. Burns must stand trial on the charge of driving with a suspended license.

Pub Date: 2/26/97

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