Cave man dig panned Glendening on a mission

The Political Game

Law: Delegate doesn't like attorney's Neanderthal reference, and governor hopes to prevail on Israeli leaders to deliver teen-ager.

November 04, 1997|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF

AND NOW A TALE of e-mail, Neanderthals and the humor of Annapolis.

Dutifully checking his messages one day last summer, Del. Anthony J. O'Donnell, a Calvert County Republican, found one XTC from Daniel M. Clements, former president of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association and an official of its political action committee.

"Been thinking about you," the message said, according to a source who saw it, "and I'm sure you were sad to hear that scientists have determined that man did not evolve from Neanderthals. Still, if they took a DNA sample from you, they might revise their thinking."

O'Donnell knows about DNA and Neanderthals. He was not amused.

As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, he knows the assertive and outspoken Clements well. They've been on opposite sides of efforts -- defeated by O'Donnell and others -- that would have changed the way Maryland apportions financial responsibility for damages in civil suits.

Those who want the approach rewritten find its contributory negligence rule unduly harsh on plaintiffs. Under a contributory system, those who file lawsuits cannot recover damages if they were even partially responsible for their injuries.

In states using a comparative negligence approach, juries are instructed to parcel out fault among all parties, including the plaintiff and multiple defendants. The plaintiff's award then is reduced by the percentage of his responsibility for injuries.

A bill that would have given Maryland a more plaintiff-friendly standard died during last year's Assembly session -- with O'Donnell again opposed. That may have had something to do with the message he got from Clements, but O'Donnell declined to comment yesterday.

Clements said one legislator he knows, if accused of being a Neanderthal, would say, "Thank you." Delegate O'Donnell was not so inclined.

"I meant it as humor," Clements said. "I realized later it wasn't taken that way. When I saw him recently I apologized."

Glendening hopes to bring Sheinbein back from Israel

Gov. Parris N. Glendening began a weeklong trip to Israel last night with more than the usual array of economic development objectives.

Glendening hopes to bring back business opportunities -- and a wanted man.

He joins at least two members of the Maryland congressional delegation working to persuade Israeli authorities to return Samuel D. Sheinbein for trial in Maryland. The 17-year-old Montgomery County youth fled to Israel after the slaying and dismemberment of Alfredo E. Tello Jr., 19.

Sheinbein, of Wheaton, and Aaron B. Needle of Rockville, also 17, have been indicted in the slaying.

A Glendening spokeswoman said yesterday that the governor is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday. He plans to raise the Sheinbein issue then.

"The governor will reiterate what the State Department and the state's attorney from Montgomery County have been saying -- that this matter is very important to the people of Maryland," said Judy Scioli, the governor's press secretary.

The question of extradition in this case apparently turns on whether Sheinbein, whose father was born in Israel, was an Israeli citizen at the time of his alleged involvement in the killing. Israel's attorney general, Elyakim Rubenstein, has said that he can be extradited because he is not an Israeli citizen. Sheinbein's lawyer, former Israeli Justice Minister David Libai, disagrees.

Glendening will amplify concerns expressed by Maryland Reps. Constance A. Morella, a Republican from Montgomery County, and Albert R. Wynn, a Prince George's Democrat. Both have received requests for their help in persuading Israeli authorities to return Sheinbein.

On the business front, Glendening will meet with the minister of industry and trade and the minister of finance. He has appointments also with the presidents of three major companies that do business in Maryland: Zim Shipping Lines, which calls at the port of Baltimore; El Al Israel Airlines, which flies to Baltimore-Washington International Airport; and Israel Military Industries, which has an office in Chevy Chase.

He will also visit communities that have established sister city relationships with Baltimore and Prince George's County.

Pub Date: 11/04/97

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