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Cassidy Jenson

The Baltimore Sun

March 20, 2024

Attorneys for David Linthicum, a Cockeysville man accused of shooting two police officers last year, have accused Baltimore County prosecutors of misconduct in newly filed court documents.

In the latest salvo in a contentious pretrial fight over evidence, Linthicum’s attorneys Deborah Katz Levi and James Dills of the Office of the Public Defender asked Baltimore County Circuit Judge Dennis M. Robinson Jr. to dismiss the 27 counts against Linthicum, 25, and bar Baltimore County Police officers from testifying as witnesses.

“For the last thirteen months, since his arrest, the State has engaged in a pattern of prosecutorial misconduct including but not limited to filing baseless pleadings to impair the attorney client relationship, withholding significant discovery, failing to perform due diligence, and actively misleading this Honorable Court and opposing counsel,” Levi and Dills wrote in a response filed Monday.

Levi and Dills argued in part that prosecutors had violated rules of professional conduct because the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office had donated $2,722 to a fundraiser for one of the officers on the website GoFundMe.

A grand jury indicted Linthicum on charges that include multiple counts of attempted murder, along with assault and carjacking. Police initially responded to a Feb. 8 call for a suicidal person in Cockeysville, but said Linthicum fled, leading law enforcement on a two-day search that ended in Harford County. Linthicum is accused of shooting two officers, critically wounding one of them, Baltimore County Police Detective Jonathan Chih.

The online fundraiser included “an emotionally charged, one-sided description of the alleged conduct that formed the basis of Mr. Linthicum’s charges and the extent to which Detective Chih was injured,” wrote Levi and Dills, arguing that the donation violated a rule limiting comments about a case outside of court. They also suggested that prosecutors should have disclosed to the defense that money was given to a witness.

Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said Wednesday in an email to The Baltimore Sun that the donation was collected by employees of his office like they might do for “weddings, baby showers or officer injuries” and that prosecutors don’t believe it violated a rule.

“This was not a donation in the official capacity of the States Attorney’s Office and was not from funds of the office or Baltimore County,” Shellenberger said. “A number of employees of this office decided to personally contribute money and one person within the office individually collected everyone’s money then sent the accumulated personal donations to the GoFundMe page as coming from his friends in the office.”

Elizabeth Keyes, a professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law who teaches legal ethics, said the donation seemed unusual.

“This seems like, at best, a very strange choice given that prosecutors are supposed to be very careful in the kinds of public statements they make,” Keyes said.

Weeks ago, Robinson criticized Baltimore County prosecutors in an order for belatedly turning over a document called a use of force report after insisting there was no such thing. The judge also referred to previous instances where he said the state had turned over documents after claiming they didn’t exist.

Deputy State’s Attorney John Cox and Assistant State’s Attorney Zarena Sita filed a motion asking Robinson to reconsider earlier this month, asserting that the document called a use of force report was not the same kind of record Linthicum’s attorneys had requested. They also disputed other statements in the judge’s order and asked for a hearing to address them.

“It would be difficult to argue that the Court’s Decision & Order in this case has not seriously called into question the integrity and honesty of the attorneys representing the State in this case. The implication, if not a direct finding, is not based on correct findings of fact,” Cox and Sita wrote in their motion.

Citing a Baltimore Sun article, prosecutors said the judge’s order had received press attention that mentioned them by name.

“A finding of fact by a Judge in a formal pleading is difficult to explain or contest for the attorneys named in the press who now face scrutiny from colleagues, family and friends. This is an unfair situation to be placed in with little ability to defend oneself,” Cox and Sita wrote.

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