Intimidation of witnesses has become a significant problem in Maryland. Many witnesses to violent crimes have themselves become victims of assaults, and even murders, aimed at keeping them from testifying.
The Governor, and many members of both parties in the General Assembly have tried again this year to do something about the problem.
But every effort has been stymied by Del. Joseph F. Vallario.
Del. Vallario, a criminal defense attorney, has stopped every effort because of what he calls a potential problem with "hearsay" evidence. A fear that an accused who murders a witness won't be able to confront cross-examine that witness.
However, this "hearsay" problem of not being able to confront a witness did not stop Del. Vallario from voting for legislation that would allow Montgomery County to use Big Brother cameras to photograph speeding cars in a menner that would not not allow ticketed drivers to confront their accusers.
Apparently, Del. Vallario is only concerned about the constitutional "hearsay" problem when it might affect his clients, not when it affects others.
With his clear conflict of interest, Del. Vallario should recuse himself from issues such as this that affect his regular employment.
And if he refuses to do so, the members of the General Assembly who voted to make him a committee chairman should remove him from that position.
If witness intimidation legislation fails, every Delegate who voted to give Del. Vallario authority over such bills must be held equally accountable for the failure.
Filed in: Del.Vallario