State's attorney drops Nextel contempt action

Phone company offers `corrective measures' to aid city law enforcement

May 10, 2002|By Sarah Koenig | Sarah Koenig,SUN STAFF

An hour after Baltimore prosecutors, police and a Nextel Communications lawyer flown in from Seattle hashed out their differences in private, the city state's attorney's office withdrew its petition yesterday asking a court to find Nextel in contempt.

"We had an open discussion of problems, and both parties agreed we wanted to move forward," said prosecutor Antonio Gioia.

The state's attorney's office sought the contempt hearing after Nextel twice interrupted service on a cellular telephone that was being tapped by narcotics detectives, effectively grounding their investigation.

In court yesterday, Nextel attorney Al Gidari said the line interruptions had been accidental and stressed the company's willingness to cooperate with city law enforcement.

"I want to personally assure this court that your orders will be met," he told Circuit Judge Wanda K. Heard.

Yesterday's agreement was sealed in the court record, but prosecutors said in it, Nextel agreed to several "corrective measures."

The company will work with its software providers to fix a lag in transmission of call data; speed up its subpoena compliance; conduct in-house tests to avoid line shutdowns; and meet more regularly with police.

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