Streamlining courts must not involve compromising rights...


July 30, 2000

Streamlining courts must not involve compromising rights

The Sun's recent editorial on Baltimore City's criminal justice system ("Bottlenecks remain in court streamlining," July 14) is to be applauded for providing an intelligent discussion regarding our continuing efforts to identify and eradicate factors that needlessly delay case adjudication.

It should be emphasized, however, that my statement regarding the possibility of directing minor offenders into community service ("Quick justice may sometimes mean injustice ...") was intended to restate my ongoing concern for the rights of all those involved in the judicial system.

While it is commendable that alternative forms of sentencing are being considered to clear the dockets of minor cases, we should not lose sight of the fact that every person who is charged with a crime is entitled to adequate due process.

Citizens of Baltimore should not have to waive their right to a fair hearing because of a lack of judicial resources.

The issue of lengthy pretrial incarceration, documented by The Sun, is only part of the problem. It would be a travesty if our quest for expedited and streamlined procedures results in the forfeiture of protections under the 14th Amendment.

Only a coordinated effort by Maryland's executive, judicial and legislative branches will allow the formulation of equitable and efficient solutions.

Frank M. Conaway


The writer is clerk of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

Dale Kelberman: a prosecutor who maintains his principles

I write to clarify any potential misunderstanding from The Sun's article about my friend and colleague Dale P. Kelberman ("Evans prosecutor has reputation for tackling white-collar criminals," July 15).

Although he is described by some as without passion or feeling, those who know Mr. Kelberman best understand that he brings to the role of public prosecutor a commitment to consistency and equal treatment under the law.

As a result, he refuses to yield to the rich, the powerful or the prominent. Those used to privilege and special treatment take umbrage when they do not receive it.

The article may convey the notion that Mr. Kelberman will pursue any case. The truth is that he has a reputation in law enforcement for refusing to authorize prosecution if the evidence cannot justify it.

He understands the profound effect a prosecutorial decision can have on the people involved and analyzes every situation in the context of the evidence.

He will not authorize a prosecution out of political fervor or public pressure. Nor will he use the power he possesses in his position as a federal prosecutor as an opportunity to steal a few cheap headlines.

Mr. Kelberman has an unyielding adherence to the facts and the truth. As a result, he is the epitome of what the public should expect from a prosecutor.

Joseph L. Evans


Schaefer's friend in need of another task force job?

State Comptroller William Donald Schaefer estimates the state could lose $148.5 million a year because of untaxed Internet sales ("Maryland sales tax due on in-state, not on out of state," letters, July 25).

Isn't this the same scenario that Mr. Schaefer predicted when he said that millions in taxes were lost on out-of-state furniture sales?

What was the total collected last year by that task force he created? Just $52,000, not enough to pay the head of the task force, a close friend of Mr. Schaefer.

Are we now going to have an Internet Sales Tax Task Force, headed up by another Schaefer friend?

George Pruchniewski


Cheney's a retread who should be retired

Texas Gov. George W. Bush picking Richard Cheney as his running mate is like a son borrowing one of his father's old ties. The tie doesn't match -- it's worn and it only looks good in old photographs, but the kid wears it anyway.

In fact, if vice presidential choices are neckties, then the Bush family has questionable taste. Dan Quayle, after all, was nothing more than a clip-on.

Christopher Zysk


Presidential choice: dumb and dumber

As one who has voted in every election since 1947, the upcoming presidential election provides the toughest choice -- even if you are a dyed-in-the-wool party or even a union member.

It is sometimes said the choice is one of "tweedle dee and tweedle dumb." This time around, the choice boils down to "dumb and dumber."

Both want the election so badly they can taste it -- and will say anything and do anything to get the vote, many times not knowing what they are talking about. What a shame.

Richard L. Lelonek


Transforming blighted lots into community assets

Vacant lots can be a grim reminder of the flight and blight that have plagued city neighborhoods in recent years. But, as pointed out in The Sun's editorial "From eyesores to gardens" (July 23), they can also be converted into productive lots or places pleasing to the eye.

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