Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold (R) has decided to let Judge Dennis M. Sweeney, rather than a jury of Anne Arundel residents, decide whether he misappropriated thousands of taxpayer dollars and is guilty of misconduct.
Leopold is accused of using his county-paid security officers to enable and hide an intimate relationship with a county employee and to help him win a second term.
Leopold’s lawyers, Bruce Marcus and Robert Bonsib, told Sweeney of the decision Thursday morning after nearly 60 potential jurors who had been called back from Wednesday were sent out of the courtroom temporarily, and then excused.
The move came about 26 hours after the trial opened Wednesday, when more than 90 potential jurors were questioned during roughly seven hours of queries at the bench. The questions were meant to exclude potential jurors who were not qualified for various reasons, including conflicts, personal relationships and opinions that would keep them from serving impartially.
The trial is slated to resume Friday morning.
State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt declined to comment on the change aside from stating that the decision was Leopold’s right.
Davitt said he expected to call 10 to 12 witnesses, but declined to name them and said it would take about four days to present the prosecution’s case.
Among the questions asked early Thursday of the then-prospective jurors in the pool were whether they knew a handful of people whose relationships to the case were not immediately clear, either from the indictment or news reports.
At least one name appears to match that of an employee of Anne Arundel Medical Center.
Among the charges against Leopold is that members of his security detail were required to work 170 hours of overtime at a hospital –– where Leopold was recovering from back surgery in 2010 –– for the purpose of preventing his live-in girlfriend from discovering his affair with a woman employed by the county.
According to the indictment, Leopold also used his security detail to transport him to parking lots for sex, compile dossiers on political enemies, collect campaign contributions, maintain his campaign signs and stand by while he removed opponents’ campaign signs.