Capital Notebook

Capital Notebook

April 07, 2006

Brawl breaks out at juvenile center

State and local police were called in to break up a fracas at a juvenile detention center in Chestertown early yesterday involving 18 youths - nearly the entire population of the center, authorities said.

Seven youths at the J. DeWeese Carter Center reported receiving minor injuries, mostly bumps, bruises and scrapes, said Edward Hopkins, a spokesman for the Department of Juvenile Services.

He said that two staff members were sent to a hospital to be checked for possible fractures of the hands or fingers, and two other staff members were "shaken up" by the incident.

The brawl started at breakfast with a fight between two youths that quickly spread, Hopkins said. Staff members called police to help restore control, and they arrived within minutes, he said.

"When the police arrived, the youths immediately stopped what they were doing and followed directions," Hopkins said.

One of the two boys involved in the initial fight was part of a group of six juveniles who had just been transferred to the Carter center to relieve crowding at the Alfred D. Noyes Children's Center in Montgomery County, he said.

Youths are often transferred among state juvenile detention facilities to relieve crowding. There were 65 youths held at Noyes yesterday, eight more than its capacity, records show.

The Carter center was housing 22 juvenile offenders yesterday, five fewer than its capacity.

Hopkins said that programs were suspended for the day. Youths were returned to their rooms and were being interviewed as authorities investigate the incident.

The 18 youths involved in the brawl were charged with second-degree assault and disorderly conduct, he said.

Greg Garland

Kent County: Rock Hall

Oyster-harvesting violations are charged to three men

Three Rock Hall men were charged this week with numerous oyster harvesting violations, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police announced yesterday.

Police charged Daniel L. Dierker, 28, Mark R. Elburn, 39, and Robert W. Hague, 26, with oystering before the allotted time, using an oyster scrape in an area reserved for hand tonging, dredging on submerged land reserved for tonging and dredging in prohibited county waters. Hague was also charged with failure to pay an oyster surcharge and taking oysters without a commercial license.

Police caught the trio oystering at Ringgold's Point in the Chester River on Monday. They confiscated the 5 1/2 bushels of oysters onboard the vessel and put them back into the Chester River.

Rona Kobell

Maryland: General Assembly

Juvenile crime victims measure is sent to the governor

A bill that would allow victims of juvenile violence to appeal a denial of their rights has been approved by both houses of the General Assembly and sent to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for his signature.

The bill, introduced by Howard County Del. Neil F. Quinter, stemmed from a legal case Quinter took pro bono before his election and reverses a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling.

Oscar Antonio-Lopez Sanchez, 28, of Columbia was shot in the back and paralyzed in 2000 by a 16-year-old. When a Howard County court considered restitution for the Salvadoran immigrant, he was not told about an agreement between prosecutors and lawyers for the shooter until after it was completed.

When he appealed, saying he should have been told in advance so he could request a court hearing and ask for the maximum amount, courts ruled against him. The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled last year that victims of juvenile crime have no right to appeal the denial of their rights.

Larry Carson

General Assembly

Annexations compromise near; neither side is pleased

A dispute between cities and counties over Maryland's annexation laws is close to resolution, although neither side is truly happy.

Lawmakers are considering the mechanism by which a municipality can add land after some large annexations on the Eastern Shore raised alarms that cities have too much power to grab acreage even if the counties oppose the plan. Denton is in litigation with Caroline County over one of its annexations.

The Maryland Association of Counties pushed a bill this year to give counties more say over annexations, putting a 10-year waiting time on some zoning changes for annexed land when counties oppose the change. City leaders cried foul and said annexation is a valued tool to direct growth toward existing population centers, not open land.

Now lawmakers are headed toward approving a bill that would require cities to cooperate more with counties on their annexation plans but stops short of giving counties veto control and a 10-year delay. The bill has passed the House and is nearing a vote in the Senate.

David Bliden, executive director of the counties group, said the compromise is sound because neither side is completely happy.

"There's equal dissatisfaction and equal satisfaction" with the final bill, he said.

The measure would require more water planning in growth plans and would set up a state commission to review annexations and how to manage growth. The measure also outlines more mediation for times when cities and counties disagree over an annexation.

Jim Peck, director of research for the Maryland Municipal League, said he was relieved that a few annexations on the Eastern Shore did not lead to a wholesale change in how cities grow.

"To the extent you strangle municipalities' ability to grow, knowing that growth will occur, it'll happen in a sprawl fashion rather than dealing with water and sewer," Peck said.

Democratic Del. Bennett Bozman of Worcester County worked on the compromise and said it will help get to the real question - not annexation, but growth.

Associated Press

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