Dixon Defense Reiterates Charges Are Flawed

April 21, 2009|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,annie.linskey@baltsun.com

Defense lawyers for Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon reinforced their arguments Monday that the 12 criminal offenses against the mayor should be dropped, with her lawyers insisting that four perjury charges are based on "a fundamental misreading" of the city's ethics code.

The arguments contained in court filings offered a preview of what defense lawyers could spend time discussing Thursday, when they are scheduled to make an oral presentation in Baltimore Circuit Court on their motion to dismiss all charges.

Dixon was indicted in January, accused on four counts of perjury for failing to report gifts on her ethics form, three counts of theft for taking gift cards intended for the needy, three counts of misappropriation and two counts of misconduct in office. She has said she is innocent.

Laying out Dixon's defense, lawyers Arnold M. Weiner and Dale P. Kelberman argue that the mayor did not perjure herself because she was not required to disclose gifts from Ronald H. Lipscomb, a prominent developer. They say he was not technically "doing business with the city" when he gave the gifts, so disclosure was not required.

The defense lawyers noted that Dixon may have violated sections of the ethics code that prohibit a public official from accepting gifts from those who "do business of any kind" with the city. But they argue that such a violation, if it occurred, would be punishable by a civil penalty, not a criminal one.

Dixon's lawyers also pointed out that they saw a draft of the criminal indictment before a grand jury voted on it and told the state prosecutor that he "was proceeding under a mistaken view of the Ethics Code, that Ms. Dixon had committed no crime and that she should not be indicted."

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