Candidate's judicial mien stands trial

Aspiring judge snared in case of office passions and attempted murder

August 31, 2006|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,Sun reporter

William R. Buie III is a criminal defense lawyer who hopes to be elected a judge. But this fall, he'll play neither of these roles in an attempted-murder trial. He'll be a witness, and he'll be the alleged motive.

An attorney for seven years, Buie, 35, is one of six candidates for four seats on the Baltimore County Circuit Court bench. The primary election is in two weeks.

But Buie's involvement with the State of Maryland v. Natasha Huber does not necessarily portray him as a man of judicial temperament. Rather, he seems to be a boss who had affairs with office staff and even promised gifts to one employee in exchange for her dropping domestic violence charges she had filed against him.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in the Aug. 31 editions about a Baltimore County judicial candidate who is a witness in an upcoming city trial should have listed the criminal charges facing Natasha Huber: solicitation to commit murder, solicitation to commit first-degree assault and telephone misuse.

Huber, 37, used to be Buie's office manager and lover, but she was replaced in both roles last year by Priscilla Ali. The love triangle took on a sinister slant, police allege, when Huber tried to hire one of Buie's clients to kill Ali.

Buie said in an interview he does not believe the situation will hurt his judicial campaign in any way. In fact, he noted, it shows voters a side of him that they may relate to.

"I would say it's embarrassing," he said. "But it's real life, and I'm a real person. How could a person sit in judgment over someone else if they have no problems?"

Another potential plus: "This has awakened me to understanding the whole victim side of our criminal justice system."

Buie received his law degree from Howard University in 1997. He worked as a congressional liaison for the U.S. Department of Labor and became a member of the Maryland bar in 1999.

He has shared office space and cases with Warren A. Brown, a well-known criminal defense attorney. Now he operates a thriving criminal defense and personal injury practice on South Calvert Street, not far from the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouses.

Buie, a Baltimore County resident, said he decided to run for judge in May, long after the Huber case got rolling.

One reason Buie said he wants to join that county's Circuit Court bench is that "it needs more people of color." Of its 17 judges, one is African-American.

Office affair goes bad

A father of two elementary school-age girls, Buie and his wife, Jacqueline, separated in October 2002 because of Buie's affair with Huber, according to divorce documents. Their divorce was finalized in May 2005.

Huber and Buie met in 2001, he said, through a mutual friend. She became his office manager. They became friends and then lovers, he said. By the end of the relationship in May 2005, Buie said, "everything that could possibly go wrong, did go wrong. She was just refusing to break up."

Huber's attorney, Andrew Fontanella, said his client is the victim. "Mr. Buie is in a power position," he said. "The way I look at it, it's an abuse of power here."

The 2-inch-thick court file in Huber's case chronicles her relationship with Buie.

Within the file are copies of photographs from happier times, including a shot where she has her arms around his waist as they pose before a grand piano.

It also contains letters, seized by police in a search of her apartment, that lay bare her desperation after Buie began seeing Ali.

"I just want to have a pleasant conversation," reads one note, seemingly a one-sided script of a discussion. "Did you care about me? Do you love me? Do you miss me? Do you think about me during the holidays?"

The note ends with a threat: "You know the type of drama I can bring to you when I'm done wrong by anyone. Please don't make the same mistake twice and not listen and ignore me."

It was perhaps a reference to the charges Huber had filed against Buie last November. She accused him of second-degree assault and false imprisonment.

On May 17, 2005, Huber's application for charges said, Buie became enraged at the end of the work day. He yelled at her and pushed her around, she wrote, and he slapped, kicked and choked her.

In fear, she barricaded herself in the office bathroom, she wrote, waiting for him to calm down. Afterward, the couple drove to their Elkridge apartment, but Huber said her aunt later took her to Howard County General Hospital.

A Howard County police report taken at the hospital shows that Huber "stated that she had been assaulted by her boyfriend Mr. William Buie." The officer told Huber she could file charges in Baltimore, which she waited to do until about six months later.

On Nov. 7, less than a week after filling out the application for charges, Huber signed quite a different document.

An "affidavit and agreement," a copy of which is in Huber's court file, states that "all of this was untrue" and that she will "dismiss the action."

The affidavit states that the couple had "reconciled" (a word that is bolded and underlined).

Furthermore, it states, Huber filed charges to "induce" Buie into hiring her back as office manager and giving her a place to live. And Buie agrees he will extend Huber's employment for two years and give her places to live, first in Elkridge, then at his Catonsville house.

Mercedes and a ring

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