Prevas had a reason to send defendants without lawyers to...


November 18, 1998

Prevas had a reason to send defendants without lawyers to 0) jail

Baltimore Circuit Judge John N. Prevas is not always the soul of tact. But to describe his recently abandoned practice of jailing selected defendants who show up for trial without a lawyer as "judicial bullying and a fundamental disrespect for the human dignity of defendants" is hyperbole by University of Maryland law professor Michael Millemann ("City judge jailing poor defendants who lack lawyers," Oct. 25).

Criminal defendants have many good reasons for deliberately showing up for court unrepresented. A postponement because of lack of counsel increases the chances of never having to go to prison. Witnesses may die or disappear, police witnesses may retire and move away or prosecutors may grow so weary of calling the case that they will offer a sweetheart plea just to get rid of it.

The older the evidence grows, the harder it becomes for the state to prove its case. This is why so many defendants who never make bail waive their right to a speedy trial and choose to stay in jail until they plead guilty. They almost always get a better deal than they would have if they'd gone to trial promptly.

A defendant who does nothing to secure the services of counsel can be deemed to have waived them and be ordered to face trial without them. Judge Prevas is unwilling to let defendants stack the deck against themselves in this way. By jailing the most insouciant, he has been able to get their full attention and to keep them from manipulating the system.

When Judge Prevas was a new judge, city prosecutors who have felt the sting of his brilliance as much as anyone else dubbed him "the Ayatollah." I hope that this latest hubbub will do nothing to diminish his assiduous dedication to the marriage of efficiency and justice.

Hal Riedl


The writer was law clerk to Judge John N. Prevas from 1986 to 1988.

'Cancer of commercialism' encroaches on new stadium

What an insult it is to this city when the naming of the new stadium is in the hands of commercial greed. I thought stadiums were monuments of regional pride and named to inspire such. What does this say about Baltimore? That we are prostitutes selling the name to the highest bidder?

When did Madison Avenue so completely take over society and leech it of its values? Isn't it time people started to fight back this ever-encroaching cancer of commercialism?

Chris Winslow


Article didn't portray smokers group fairly

We are an independent businesswoman and former co-chair of the Republican National Committee; the president of a public broadcasting corporation and former college president and a financial consultant and former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department.

Perhaps most important, we are adult citizens who happen also to be smokers. Our relationship with the tobacco industry consists of our use of a product and our gratitude for financial contributions in defense of 50 million consumers.

With no outside interference, we oversee all expenditures and approve all consequential actions of the National Smokers Alliance, which has been fighting discrimination against smokers publicly since 1993.

Had your reporter, Scott Shane, called any of us as he was invited to do, perhaps his report on the National Smokers Alliance would have been less distorted, but that would have destroyed the conspiracy theory provided to him by the anti-smoking group that seeks to increase Maryland's cigarette tax by $1.50 a pack.

The National Smokers Alliance does and will oppose the tax. We hope we shall be joined in that opposition by 800,310 adult smokers in Maryland who may well be wondering why they should pay more taxes when tax cuts are being considered for everyone else.

Jeanie R. Austin

David M. Nummy

Charles W. Sydnor Jr.

Alexandria, Va.

The writers are directors of the National Smokers Alliance.

Sad to read columnist's description of black voters

How very sad it was to read Gregory Kane's diagnosis of the election ("Black voters succumbed to Glendening demagogy," Nov. 7) in which Ellen Sauerbrey was trounced by Maryland voters.

His language was wrapped in wordiness that must be an embarrassment to The Sun, his teachers of the language, as well as the voters who exercised their right to cast their ballots in favor of whomever they chose.

Shame on me; I never saw one of the caricatures on the television screen. I did not need instructions to make decisions that affect my choice about whom should lead the state during the next four years.

How sad it is that Mr. Kane used such lofty language with an obvious animus of mind and spirit to describe a community that sought successfully to put flesh to its dreams. How sad it is that he sinks to such profanity to describe the wishes of the voters of Maryland.

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