Judge rejects handwriting analysis as evidence in slots case

Judicial review of Arundel Mills petition limits what can be submitted in court

May 25, 2010|By Nicole Fuller, The Baltimore Sun

The judge presiding over the case involving a ballot referendum on slots at Arundel Mills decided this afternoon not to allow expert testimony on handwriting analysis as part of an effort by the project developer's lawyers to prove fraud in slots opponents' successful petition drive.

The issue arose because of Judge Ronald A. Silkworth's decision to treat the hearing as a judicial review, which limits the type of evidence that can be introduced in court.

"As this court already noted...additional evidence is not allowed," said Silkworth.

Stephen P. Anthony, a lawyer for the developer's parent company, Baltimore-based Cordish Cos., said the testimony would have been "helpful to the court" to prove that the petition circulators committed fraud.

Anthony is seeking the invalidation of 9,406 of the signatures accepted by the Anne Arundel elections board, more than a third of those submitted by Citizens Against Slots at the Mall, the community group that sponsored the petition. The Cordish group needs at least 4,175 of the signatures invalidated in order to stop the referendum.

Lawyers for the anti-slots coalition, including the Maryland Jockey Club, which has financed the effort with the hopes of bringing slots to Laurel Racetrack, argued that expert testimony is not allowed under rules established by Silkworth's decision to treat the case as a judicial review.

"I don't understand how they can stand up in court and completely and objectively ignore the rules that cover a trial," said Bruce Marcus, a lawyer for the coalition.

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