Between The Lines

BETWEEN THE LINES

February 21, 2005

Publicity hound leashed

Warren A. Brown, a sharp-dressing defense attorney known for holding news conferences even to say that he has "no comment," was warned by a judge last week to keep his mouth shut.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Stuart R. Berger, who presided over the child sexual abuse trial of defrocked priest Maurice Blackwell, asked Brown to stop giving media interviews until the jury had reached a verdict. Brown represented Dontee Stokes, Blackwell's victim, during Stokes' attempted-murder trial in December 2002 - after Blackwell was shot - and was subpoenaed (though never called) as a witness in the Blackwell case.

Brown fluttered about the hallway outside the courtroom where the Blackwell trial was being held and did not hesitate to share his thoughts on the proceedings. But Berger said his behavior was inappropriate and asked him to stop.

"Judge, there's nothing unusual or strange or out of character about me talking to the media," Brown said, repeating a standing joke that he has never met a TV camera he hasn't liked. He told Berger he'd heed his admonishment, but then dialed his assistants to ask them to research the issue.

Brown also grumbled - jokingly - that he should bill Blackwell's attorney for the new suit he bought to wear on the witness stand.

- Julie Bykowicz

Star power, firepower

Sanford Abrams, the president of Valley Gun in Parkville, is competing with some well-known names for another term on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association.

Abrams, a current NRA board member, is the co-founder and vice president of the Maryland Firearms Dealers Association. A short biographical sketch in the NRA magazine America's 1st Freedom says Abrams has lobbied in Maryland's General Assembly against gun-control laws since 1987 and he actively promotes "concealed carry" laws allowing permit holders to carry concealed firearms in public places.

Abrams is among 31 candidates seeking 25 seats. Balloting ends March 27.

Among the other candidates are actor Tom Selleck; Hollywood writer/director John Milius; the national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, Roy Innis; former Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia; and former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore.

- Mike Adams

They said he said

Inside Edition went ahead with putting Baltimore's homicide numbers in the national spotlight Friday night, despite the efforts of a city Department of Transportation spokesman to deny making a quote.

The nationally syndicated television show aired a report investigating the recent electrocution deaths of people and animals on the streets of several cities, including that of a dog in Baltimore.

The show told viewers that when its producers reported electrical problems in Boston and New York, authorities responded quickly. But it said that a spokesman for Baltimore's Department of Transportation had a different answer.

"We've got 28 murders a month," the spokesman said, according to Inside Edition, "and you're worried about some shocked dogs?"

The spokesman - who was not named on the air, but was identified by a show producer as David Brown - told The Sun on Thursday that he never made any such statement.

Inside Edition host Deborah Norville acknowledged that the spokesman had denied making the statement.

"We stand behind the accuracy of the quote," she said.

- Howard Libit

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