Judge dismisses ACLU case against Leopold, Teare

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge on Friday dismissed a civil case against former county executive John R. Leopold, former county police chief James Teare Sr. and Anne Arundel County government over dossiers allegedly compiled on Leopold’s political enemies.

Judge John Phillip Miller threw out the case filed in December 2012 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland on behalf of 11 plaintiffs.

The ACLU was suing to obtain copies of the dossiers, which were first mentioned in the March 2012 criminal indictment of Leopold.

Leopold resigned from office after he was convicted in January 2013 of using his police detail for personal and political gain. Retired Circuit Court Judge Dennis Sweeney found Leopold guilty of two counts of misconduct for ordering his deputies to empty his catheter bag and to put up campaign signs.

Leopold is appealing that conviction.

He said Friday the case had no merit and he was happy Miller dismissed it.

“This case was far more about political harassment than it was about protecting civil liberties,” he said.

Meredith Curtis, a spokeswoman for the ACLU, said lawyers are reviewing the judge’s ruling.

“It’s going to take some time to review it,” Curtis said. “Our primary concern is sending a message to elected officials that this kind of behavior is unlawful.”  

The ACLU case was the third civil case filed against Leopold. He was dropped as a defendant in a federal retaliation case filed by his former spokeswoman, Karla Hamner, which was settled last fall for $110,000. A similar case filed by former aide Joan Harris is pending in U.S. District Court. Both Harris and Hamner were plaintiffs in the ACLU case.

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