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Judge Takes Council Vacancy Issue Under Advisement

An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge said he would issue his written opinion on the matter at a later date.

The question of Anne Arundel County's District 1 representation moved into court on Wednesday, but a decision may take some time.

The Anne Arundel County Council  that declared the District 1 seat vacant saying that former Councilman Daryl Jones would be living outside of his district while serving a prison sentence in South Carolina. Jones was for failing to file tax returns and began serving his five-month sentence on Jan. 23.

The validity of that bill is now under consideration by Judge Arthur Ahalt. At the end of Wednesday's hearing in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, Ahalt said he would issue his written opinion at a later date, but did not specify when that might be, County Attorney Jonathan Hodgson said.

Jones, the plaintiff in this case, has said he would like to retain his seat on the council for when he finishes his sentence. His attorney, Linda Schuett, a former county attorney, said the council acted illegally when it vacated Jones' seat with Bill 85-11.

Hodgson said he's confident the council is in the right, noting that the county's charter requires council members to live in the district they represent.

"We countered by saying that the council acted in proper authority," Hodgson said. "And we remain confident that the council acted properly in enacting Bill 85-11."

County Councilman John Grasso (R-2nd District) told Patch he thinks the decision should be easy for the judge.

"I think that any judge that [allows Jones back on the council] needs a checkup from the neck up," Grasso said. "I think the decision should be based on the legal values and moral issues."

The County Council is scheduled to meet Monday for another chance to vote on Jones' successor. They have been unable to come to an agreement on the matter after more than 100 votes split 3-3 between  and .

Hodgson warned the council in a letter dated March 7 that their failure to meet a 30-day deadline to fill the vacancy undermines their position in court, as first reported by The Baltimore Sun.

Glen Burnie Patch editor also contributed to this article.

CORRECTION: An earlier edition of this article incorrectly stated that Jones was convicted of tax evasion. He was convicted of failing to file tax returns. Patch regrets the error.

Maribeth Kalinich March 15, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Gabby Giffords returned to her congressional seat after she was shot, was reelected and then resigned to complete her rehabilitation. It is in no way comparable to someone convicted of a crime vacating his council seat. The charter mandates that the council make the replacement within 30 days. They failed to do this. Did anyone bother to check the statute on a council representative vacating because of a criminal conviction? There needs to be a tie breaking vote on the council. The council itself is playing games. The judge is coming in to clean things up.
Phillip March 15, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Personally, I don't think criminals should be in office. However I believe we will not know if Jones is or is not in the district until he files his taxes. If he has to file as a part time resident of the State of Georgia than clearly he is not a resident. If he is not required to file as a part time resident, has no income while in Georgia, than technically he is still a full time resident of the State of Maryland. Grasso is right, but Grasso also isn't making it easy for any of us in District 1 by not taking the leadership opportunity that his residents of his District have temporarily granted him through an election process to be able to work with his colleagues in the county council to fill the seat. As this point, I don't care of Grasso or any other county representative say BECAUSE THEY DO NOT LIVE IN MY DISTRICT and by the same thought processes, shouldn't be representing us in District 1!
Phillip March 15, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Or even South Carolina :)
Mike Daley March 16, 2012 at 02:33 AM
For Christ sake, this is not that hard. I will not let 3 ill-advised republicans take down our party or continue to bring bad press to the GOP. Wagner is simply compromised. He openly stated that he attempted to give donations to Dick Ladd. BIG RED FLAG! Also, he gave thousands of dollars to Mr. Leopold who is now under INDICTMENT. In this political environment we do not need more ethics violations or the perception that this is under-the-table politics. FINK, DO YOUR JOB!!!!!!!
John Smith March 16, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Daryl Jones was not convicted of income tax evasion, which is a felony, or even of failure to pay his taxes. He was convicted of one misdemeanor count of failure to file his taxes. Please get the facts straight.

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