01 January 2011

Snowden argues to keep 2nd DUI probation before judgment

From the Baltimore Sun:
The director of the attorney general's civil rights office is trying to keep a sentence that could allow him to avoid a drunken-driving conviction for the second time, a punishment that prosecutors now argue is illegal.

Carl O. Snowden's attorneys wrote in court papers that despite a 2009 change in the law barring more than one probation before judgment every 10 years for drunken driving, other laws prevent Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Ronald A. Silkworth from increasing Snowden's sentence.
...
This is Snowden's second probation before judgment in a drunken-driving case in eight years. A third similar charge...was dropped in 2005.
As I wrote about when this snafu first occurred, neither the prosecutor nor the sentencing judge knew that the Maryland law was changed.

Shane Nikolao, an attorney for Snowden, wrote in a December 17th motion that "[t]o allow the state to participate in sentencing after they have agreed to remain silent would throw the entire judicial system into chaos." This is really grasping. It seems unlikely that simply correcting an error could result in such chaos. This one is better:
He also contended that it would be "unfair to prevent Mr. Snowden from receiving probation before judgment when at the time he accepted his first probation before judgment he did so with the understanding that he would be eligible for another one after five years." His third argument is that court rules say that a sentence cannot be increased.
Seriously? "[H]e did so with the understanding that he would be eligible for another one after five years"? Is this an indication that Mr. Snowden was going to continue to drink and drive? The judge shouldn't change the sentence because a defendant is given the expectation (or even the entitlement) of a specific sentence for a future violation? What a joke.

This should already be completely obvious, but regardless of the outcome of this case, it is an outrage that a member of the attorney general's staff could accumulate two DUIs (and have been charged with a third) and still have a job working for the state's chief law enforcement officer. Mr. Snowden should do the right thing and resign.

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