Snowden convicted of drunken-driving charge after illegal plea is tossed out

Sentence remains the same for civil rights director of state attorney general's office

February 11, 2011|By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun

The civil rights director for the state attorney general's office was convicted Friday of driving while impaired, but the sentence for Carl O. Snowden remained the same as before an illegal disposition was tossed out last month.

"An appeal will be filed," Snowden said after leaving the courtroom, where Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Ronald A. Silkworth changed the initial outcome for the drunken-driving charge.

In November, Snowden, 57, received probation before judgment on a drunken-driving charge from the previous June. The lenient finding allows a person to avoid a conviction if he successfully completes probation. But it was the second PBJ granted to Snowden in a decade, which the prosecutor and judge belatedly learned was illegal under a recent change in state law.

Wiping out the PBJ last month, Silkworth gave Snowden a choice between a conviction and a trial before a different judge. Snowden instead appealed the judge's plan to throw out the PBJ, and asked the judge to do nothing until the appeal is over.

But Silkworth ordered Snowden back to court and said he was reinstating the conviction and correcting an illegal sentence. "I think I have that responsibility," Silkworth said.

Henry Dove, the Talbot County prosecutor assigned to the case, agreed.

Silkworth imposed the same sentence as before — three years of probation, with the first year supervised, and a $250 fine.

Asked whether a conviction would affect the job he has held for four years, Snowden replied, "Not that I am aware of."

He declined to comment further, as did his attorney, Alan H. Legum.

A 2009 change in state law prohibits anyone from receiving two PBJs within 10 years. Previously, they were allowed every five years. The prosecutor and judge said they didn't know about the change when Snowden was granted his second PBJ for a drunken-driving charge within eight years.

In the most recent case, an Anne Arundel police officer reported seeing Snowden's car weaving in the southbound lanes of Interstate 97 near Farm Road in Crownsville on June 8, and drunken-driving and related charges were filed. Snowden's blood-alcohol level was .09 percent, officials said.

Snowden received probation before judgment in a 2003 drunken-driving case. A 2005 drunken-driving charge was dismissed.

How the attorney general's office, which takes over the prosecution in an appeal, would handle a case involving one of its employees is unclear.

"We haven't had any formal notification of an appeal. When we get to that point, we will have those discussions," said Raquel Guillory, spokeswoman for the office.

Snowden has long been politically active. He is a well-known civil rights advocate and Democratic political figure in Anne Arundel County. He was an aide to former County Executive Janet S. Owens and has also served as an Annapolis alderman and has run unsuccessfully for mayor in the capital.

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