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The Gun Trace Task Force was an elite unit within the Baltimore City Police Department tasked with getting illegal guns off the streets.  But as a blockbuster federal investigation revealed, GTTF members were themselves criminals of the worst kind: crooked cops who conspired to terrorize the very same citizens they swore to protect and defend.  Their misconduct was shocking even for a City accustomed to police scandals: suspicion-less stops and arrests, writing false police reports and fake search warrants, lying in court, planting evidence, beating detainees, robbing citizens, and on and on.  Some measure of justice was achieved after the officers involved were convicted of federal conspiracy charges, but the battle to ensure appropriate compensation for the victims is ongoing.  A recent decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals in two cases brought by GTTF victims represents an important victory in that battle.

In Baltimore City Police Department, et al. v. Ivan Potts, Misc. No. 6, September Term, 2019, and Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Estate of William James, No. 51, Sept. Term, 2019 (, the Court considered whether Baltimore City and the Police Department should be forced to pay judgments against GTTF officers obtained by two victims, Ivan Potts and William James.  The facts of their cases are egregious, but sadly typical of the crimes committed by the GTTF officers.

Ivan Potts

The Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals has issued an order allowing certain prisoners to be released if they meet certain guidelines. Below is a description of those guidelines.


Pursuant to Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals Order dated April 14, 2020, the Administrative Judges of the Circuit Courts and the District Administrative Judges of the District Court are granted to the authority to identify at risk incarcerated persons for potential release to protect the health of at-risk incarcerated persons during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The judges must consider:

On August 28, 2019, in a landmark decision, the Court of Appeals abrogated the long standing rule that a defendant could not be convicted based solely on the testimony of the defendant’s accomplices. (State v. Jones, No. 52, September Term, 2018). Jones was charged with the murder of Mr. Sandeep Bhulari. The investigation led to six suspects. Fingerprints discovered at the crime scene implicated four of the suspects. Jones was implicated solely by the accounts of three of the suspects. The trial, those three suspects testified pursuant to plea agreements. In addition to their testimony, the State presented testimony from detectives and forensic experts and offered physical evidence. None of the physical evidence directly implicated Jones. Jones was convicted of conspiracy to commit armed carjacking. Jones appealed.

The Court of Special Appeals held that the accomplices’ testimony was not independently corroborated by other evidence and that the accomplice corroboration rule had been violated. However, the panel of the Court of Special Appeals suggested that the Court of Appeals reconsider the accomplice corroboration rule.

The State filed a petition for writ of certiorari which was granted by the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals noted that the rule applies in only a minority of states and determined that it was grounded in outdated legal reasoning. The Court then abrogated the accomplice liability rule as it was previously structured. This decision now leaves exclusively to the jury to assess the credibility of accomplice testimony. In place of the rule, the Court of Appeals has instructed trial judges to give a cautionary instruction when the State chooses to introduce accomplice testimony. As the current Maryland Pattern jury instruction dealing with accomplices covers the now abrogated rule, the jury instruction must be modified.

I recently represented a young man in Harford County Circuit Court who was charged with Possession of Child Pornography.  I am former prosecutor and career full time criminal defense attorney practicing exclusively criminal law for 22 years.  I have defended scores of individuals charged with Possession and/or Distribution of Child Pornography and have blogged many times about the increasingly harsh penalties that are being sought by both state and federal prosecutors in these cases.  The granting of probation before judgment in these cases is almost unheard of in recent times.

My client was just 18 years old when he was charged in this case.  He was caught up in the typical investigation that we see in these cases.  Undercover police officers identify a computer that shares child pornography on file sharing programs such as bitTorrent and watch it until a computer with an IP address within their jurisdiction connects to it and downloads Child Pornography.  The police will then subpeona the user data for that IP address and execute a search and seizure warrant looking for the device or devices that were used to download the illegal material.

The case against my client on first review appeared quite strong.  The police confiscated his phone and on that phone were hundreds of images of Child Pornography.  My client did not admit to downloading child pornography but he did admit to exclusive use of the phone.  When interviewing my client he advised that he could not understand why there would be images on his computer because he  never intentionally downloaded this material.  He advised that he did in fact use BitTorrent to download legal pornography and that in the event that the download included Child Pornography,  he always erased that material immediately.

A few weeks ago I defended Baltimore County Police Officer Christopher Spivey in a use of force assault case.  After listening to 3 days of testimony and evidence, the jury took less than 30 minutes to find him not guilty of all charges.  Then at least six members of the  jury waited around to shake Officer Spivey’s hand and thank him for his 10 years of service to the community as a police officer.

A few days later the Editors of the Sun wrote what I view as an outrageous editorial in which they dismissed the juries’ verdict and all but lamented the fact that there were no demonstrations of social unrest as a result of the acquittal.  Below is a link to the editorial as well as the response that I sent to the paper.  Not surprisingly the editors lacked the journalistic integrity to print my response.

My Response:

Representation in cases involving Possession and Distribution of Child Pornography require expertise that only an Aggressive Criminal Law Specialist can provide.  I am a full time Maryland Criminal Attorney and former Baltimore County Assistant State’s Attorney with more than 20 years of experience.  Throughout my career as a prosecutor and full time criminal defense attorney,  I have handled hundreds of cases involving the Possession and/or Distribution of Child Pornography in Baltimore County and across the State.  Over the last 20 years I am aware of no other criminal attorney in the state who has handled more of these cases than I have along with my partner, Former Assistant United State’s Attorney and Chief of the Sex Offense Unit,  Andrew C. White.   As I have written before on this blog, these cases are prosecuted extremely aggressively and often result in substantial state and federal prison sentences.  This is why is is so imperative to hire attorneys who specialize in these types of cases.

Unfortunately, there are many lawyers who advertise for these cases who simply do not possess the necessary experience and expertise to effectively represent people who are charged with these offenses.  I strongly suggest that anyone who is considering hiring a criminal attorney for a case involving child pornography possession or distribution  (or any criminal case for that matter) , research all prospective attorneys on Maryland Case Search.  This is the official court record for all cases filed in Maryland and it does not allow for exaggeration of an attorney’s experience or credentials.

Today, the typical Child Pornography case involves the use of peer to peer,  (P2P) networks such as, Bit Torrent, Shareaza, Gnutella, eDonkey2000 and Kademlia  (commonly referred to as Kad) which allow people using P2P software to download and share files with other people on the network.  A Detective named Reese handles all of these investigations in Baltimore County and he is very good at his job.   In the typical case, the detectives will conduct online investigations using law enforcement investigative software.  When an IP address located in Maryland become associated with a device known to be of investigative interest to child pornography, they will link up with that computer and simultaneously download the material from the Maryland IP address as it is downloading it from the device known to contain child pornography.  Once they have this material, they will research the IP address and draft an application and affidavit for search and seizure warrant.

In July I finally resolved a murder case that I have been working on for the better part of 3 years. I received a not guilty on the case in spite of the fact that my client gave a recorded “confession” to the crime.  I am convinced that in spite of his confession, he was indeed an innocent man – and 12 jurors agreed in just over 4 hours of deliberation that he was.  Here are the facts – as I often do I will leave out specific names and locations to protect the privacy of those involved:

In the early morning hours of one day in March of 2013 the police were called to the scene of a single car accident in Baltimore City. Once on the scene, they found an unresponsive adult male slumped over the steering wheel.  They removed him from the vehicle and quickly determined that he had suffered from a single gunshot to the back.  The paramedics worked on him at the scene but  were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The police inventoried the contents of the vehicle and found $1200 in cash (mostly in $20 bills) a gold watch, a half consumed bottle of soda and a few other items. The vehicle in question was a 10 year old Mercedes Benz.  It was determined in the initial stages of the investigation that the victim was unemployed and had been for some time.  It was also determined that he had been involved in the distribution of narcotics.  In fact this information was confirmed by his girlfriend.  Finally, a bulletin was very recently circulated to the officers and detectives working this part of the city, that there was a significant uptick in gang related activity (in particular Crip activity) in the area.  I will let the reader draw your own conclusions about the likely circumstances of this shooting but it look fairly obvious to me that it was drug related.

The Maryland Assembly has recently passed the Justice Reinvestment Act which is generally aimed at significantly reduces Maryland’s prison population. Our partner, Judge Joe Murphy (ret.) played a key role in formulating much of this legislation. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 122-19 and the Senate 46-0. Gov. Hogan is expected to sign the bill into law this spring.

Many major policy changes are highlighted below in this text but include a unique opportunity for inmates serving mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses an unprecedented opportunity to return to court and ask for a sentence modification.

Some other highlights to the bill include:
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As an Aggressive Former Baltimore County Prosecutor and DUI/DWI Attorney, I have prosecuted and defended well over 5,000 DUI’s in my almost 20 year career. These cases are prosecuted very aggressively in Maryland with few dismissals and even fewer acquittals. The police have been trained to write highly detailed reports describing their interactions with defendants too include their performance on field sobriety tests. These detailed reports are then testified to in court and are very often viewed as sufficient evidence to convict, at least of Driving While Impaired, even with low blood alcohol readings such as .05 or .06.

I handled a case in Baltimore County this week in which my client blew only a .06. The prosecutor initially refused to dismiss the case. However, after speaking with me in detail about the circumstances of the police officer’s stop of my client and his performance on the field sobriety tests, I convinced her that she would be unable to prove the case. Here are the facts:
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As an Aggressive Criminal Attorney and Former Baltimore County Prosecutor, I have defended dozens if not hundreds of individuals who have been charged with Possession and/or Distribution of Child Pornography. I have been practicing exclusively criminal defense for the last 17 years since leaving the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office and handle these types of cases all over the State. There is simply no question that they are prosecuted more aggressively in Baltimore County than in most any other jurisdiction. For this reason, it is imperative to find a full time criminal attorney who has substantial experience handling Child Pornography cases, in Baltimore County.

I recently defended an individual in Baltimore County that is a good illustration of how aggressively these cases are prosecuted there. Here are the facts:
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