The attorney for ousted Anne Arundel County Councilman Daryl D. Jones said Monday her client made a mistake in failing to file tax returns for several years, but she said that after serving his time, Jones is "fit to be a lawyer and he is fit to be a member of the County Council."
Attorney Linda Schuett made the case for Jones in Annapolis before retired Circuit Judge Arthur Ahalt, who will determine whether Jones will get his seat on the council back.
Jones, a Severn Democrat who was first elected to the County Council in 2006 and re-elected in 2010, was charged in August 2011 with failing to file several personal and business tax returns between 2002 and 2007. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and served five months in a federal prison in South Carolina in 2012.
After his conviction, colleagues on the council voted 6-0 to declare the District 1 seat vacant on the grounds that Jones had abandoned his home in the district while he was in prison.
Jones took the case to court in 2012, and the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in July that his removal from elected office was improper. The court sent the case back to Anne Arundel Circuit Court to determine a remedy.
At Monday's hearing, Schuett Jones has since paid his back taxes and should be able to return to the council.
David Plymyer, the county attorney who represented the council in court, said things could have gone differently had Jones simply disclosed to voters in 2010 that he was under investigation on tax charges.
Jones has argued he was busy running a law practice and a tavern and caring for his ailing mother, and that was why he failed to file returns.
After ousting Jones, the council chose Peter Smith, a Democrat from Severn, as councilman from District 1, which includes Brooklyn Park, Glen Burnie, Linthicum, Hanover and Severn.
Smith, who did not attend Monday's hearing, has said he would not resign voluntarily, but would follow any court order. He is running to win the seat on his own in 2014.
Ahalt did not indicate when he would rule on the case.
Jones declined to comment following the court hearing in Annapolis.