Saying "media exploitation" has made it impossible for any Baltimore County judge to reconsider a Baltimore man's request to wipe out his wife-beating conviction, the county's administrative judge has arranged for a judge to come halfway across the state to hear the case.
Last week, Judge John Grason Turnbull II asked Maryland's Chief Judge Robert M. Bell to assign the case to a judge outside Baltimore County. Bell has assigned the controversial case to Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III.
The move came after last month's ruling by Judge Thomas J. Bollinger Sr. to replace the 1995 battery conviction of Charles H. Weiner with probation before judgment after Weiner said he needed a clean record to, among other things, join a country club.
That ruling prompted an outcry from women's rights groups and DTC legislators who threatened to hold up judges' pay raises. In the aftermath, Bollinger reinstated the battery conviction and disqualified himself from hearing any more cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault or rape.
Weiner's request to wipe out the conviction remains up for reconsideration by another judge.
Turnbull, in his letter to Bell, noted that a ruling that favored probation before judgment for Weiner "would be perceived as a statement of support for a colleague; and denial of the motion would be perceived as a yielding to the outrageous and unjustified criticism of our entire bench."
"Because the public perception of the judiciary has already been threatened by the media exploitation of this case, I therefore request that it be assigned to a judge from another circuit," he wrote.
Yesterday, Turnbull said the hearing will be scheduled when Wright is able to come to Towson to hear the case.
Pub Date: 2/27/97