Laney's motion to move trial from county denied

Ex-candidate charged in weapons case says court biased against him

January 18, 2001|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Richmond C. Laney's motion to have his trial on explosive-weapons charges moved out of Howard County was denied yesterday in Circuit Court. Laney, a former candidate for Howard sheriff, had argued that various county judges and court employees were biased against him, making it impossible for him to receive a fair trial in the county.

The charges stem from the discovery of a cache of weapons, including explosives and guns, in Laney's Ellicott City home in July - while he was in jail for nonpayment of child support. A property manager for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which had foreclosed on the home, found the weapons and munitions, according to court documents.

Laney, 43, alleged yesterday that Master in Chancery Bernard A. Raum, who heard Laney's 1998 child-support case, was "beating the drum against me" in the courthouse, spreading denunciations of Laney through the judiciary.

Laney also said he had been belittled by Judge James B. Dudley while representing himself in a separate Circuit Court matter. Dudley has recused himself from the case.

Louis P. Willemin, a deputy district public defender representing Laney, said news accounts of Laney's court appearances might make it impossible for him to be judged fairly.

Assistant State's Attorney Keith Michael Cave said that Raum had only limited discussions with judges on the Laney case, and that most of the news articles appeared in July, too long ago to cause widespread public bias.

Circuit Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. ruled that any bias among jurors could be screened in the jury-selection process and the chance of undue bias among judges was minor in this case. Laney's trial was set for the week of March 26.

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