Man in city jury pool spends five days in jail after judge holds him in contempt

Incident occurred during selection process

March 22, 2002|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

A Belair-Edison man serving in a city jury pool spent five days in Central Booking and Intake Center after being held in contempt by Circuit Judge Evelyn Omega Cannon, judicial officials confirmed yesterday.

In what appears to be a rare occurrence in Baltimore Circuit Court, Cannon held Lawrence E. Connelly, 54, of the 3900 block of Wilke Ave. in direct criminal contempt after Connelly disrupted jury selection proceedings and talked out of turn to her.

According to a court document supplied by Cannon, the incident occurred Feb. 22 as jurors were being selected for the trial of Marcellus Henriques and Andre Arnold Travers, both accused of attempting to kill an off-duty police officer in April.

Cannon has declined to comment, as has Circuit Court Administrative Judge Ellen M. Heller.

The document said that after jurors who sought to be excused from the trial were asked to come forward, Juror 503, Connelly, "said he was totally dismayed by the court's arrogance and could therefore not sit as a juror."

Cannon told Connelly to be seated. "As he left the bench, he said in a voice that could be heard by the audience that he would not return on Monday," the document said. "As the court began to tell him of the consequences of not returning, he began to talk over the court."

After the judge told Connelly he was in contempt, the document said, Connelly "made another statement that could be heard in the audience to the effect that the court was arrogant."

About 4:15 p.m., Cannon began to have Connelly arrested for contempt but reconsidered as he was being handcuffed by deputies. She ordered Connelly to sit in the jury box, records show.

By about 5 p.m., the jury had been picked and dismissed, and Cannon asked Connelly to explain his behavior.

"The court ... explained to him how his behavior had been contemptuous and that while the court was prepared to let him go, his behavior affected how the court would be treated by others and asked him if he wanted to speak before the court made a decision. ... In a sarcastic tone, Mr. Connelly said `respectfully, no.'"

He was transported to Central Booking, where he remained until Feb. 26, a jail official said yesterday.

Efforts to reach Connelly were unsuccessful.

Henriques and Travers were found guilty March 4 of second-degree attempted murder and other charges. They await sentencing.

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