'Fascinating' parking pass case draws a 'super lawyer'

CRIME BEAT

March 06, 2009|By PETER HERMANN

He helped the Independent Counsel investigate President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky affair and, as a federal prosecutor, headed a team looking into a multimillion-dollar international bank fraud scheme.

As a defense attorney, he successfully represented a professional basketball player accused of fraud, an FBI agent who shot an unarmed man, a corporate executive accused of bilking his company out of $1 million, and a state campaign treasurer charged with theft and violations of election laws.

Now, Andrew C. White - named a "super lawyer" in January's Baltimore Magazine - can add Nicholas Foster and the alleged Bogus Parking Pass Caper to his resume.

This job means showing up for court appearances with his new client, and yesterday that meant White, of Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin and White on North Charles Street, had to go to Courtroom 7 at the Eastside District Court Building on East North Avenue.

This is the Penn Station of city courthouses, the one that best reflects the chaos of the street.

Courtroom 7 isn't even on the main floor, it's in the basement, in Early Disposition Court, where nuisance crimes such as urinating in public and loitering are quickly disposed.

This brings us back to the high-powered lawyer and his client.

Foster is charged with a single count of forgery, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail. Police accuse him of creating two fake visitor parking passes for the South Baltimore community of Otterbein and trying to sell them to two undercover officers who answered an ad on Craigslist.

Hardly a case that can bring down a president. But for city residents sick of not being able to park near their homes, this represents a new test by a city determined to end what officials describe as a lucrative and widespread trade in forged parking passes.

One thing that bringing your own lawyer to Early Disposition Court gets you is avoiding the scrum in front of the judge, reserved for the hundred-plus defendants who have to sign a list like you see at your doctor's office to spend a few moments with a public defender before the cases are called in alphabetical order. White just had to enter his appearance and could leave when he learned a charge of forging a parking pass is too important to be plea-bargained away.

"Because of the impact on the community, I didn't think it would be appropriate to plead this out," Assistant State's Attorney Patricia M. Deros told me.

White, who opines for newspaper reporters on cases as divergent as the Iraq war and the D.C. sniper, wasn't as talkative about his own client. "I personally take cases that interest me," is about all I could get him to say, adding that his client "wanted a good lawyer."

It could interest White because he lived in Federal Hill, which abuts Otterbein, for 17 years and served on the community's parking committee. "I find this to be a fascinating case," he told me.

I tried to get White to divulge his fee but I could only get him to say his prices vary from case to case and court to court. I'm gathering that the basement Early Disposition Court on North Avenue doesn't command his top fee.

Is there some sort of great legal challenge coming? Is there a hole in the police account that will stun us at trial? Will we see Foster v. City of Baltimore argued before the Supreme Court? Or even better, by Greta Van Susteran or Nancy Grace?

He wouldn't say anything about the case or his client.

We'll find out at the next round, April 9, at the John R. Hargrove Sr. Building on Patapsco Avenue in Brooklyn.

@baltimoresun.com

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