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Prosecutors ordered to hand over 2 subpoenas in Dixon case

Defense lawyers for Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon won a legal victory Wednesday morning when a judge ordered state prosecutors to hand over two subpoenas that a grand jury had issued in the City Hall corruption probe.

Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney gave prosecutors two days to produce the documents, but Deputy State Prosecutor Thomas "Mike" McDonough stood in court and passed the two pieces of paper to the defense table.

"Discovery has been provided," McDonough said.

The mayor's lawyers had initially sought the documents to bolster their contention that prosecutors were misusing a grand jury. They also say they might use them - and the fact that they were canceled - to show that City Hall did not keep records that prosecutors might need to prove that Dixon stole gift cards intended for the needy.

State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh called the subpoena issue "much ado about nothing."

"The state has bent over backward to be professional," he said. "The more we try to extend professional courtesy, the more they want. Their appetite is never solicited. At some point we need to draw a line."

Dale P. Kelberman, an attorney for Dixon, said afterward that it is "too early to tell" how the new information could impact the case.

Dixon has been accused of perjuring herself by failing to disclose gifts on her city ethics forms and stealing gift cards intended for needy families. She denies the charges.

The dispute emerged over the summer when the mayor's attorneys became alarmed that three subpoenas were issued for witnesses to testify about gift cards that Dixon has been accused of stealing. The mayor's defense lawyers said the state was improperly using the grand jury to prepare for trial.

The state withdrew all subpoenas, dropped those charges against Dixon and then reindicted her on the same offenses. Prosecutors said they were seeking information for the second set of charges. But "none of the subpoenas resulted in any evidence or testimony," McDonough said in court.

Sweeney appeared skeptical about the importance of the documents and repeatedly asked Dixon's lawyers if they really intended to use them as part of the trial. At one point he compared the defense team to alligators, saying: "You give them something, and they keep on coming back for more."

Sweeney added that "in the normal course of things" he would not be inclined to allow the defense to "rummage through everything the grand jury has done." But, he said, given that the hearing was over such a small number of documents, he ruled that the documents should be given to the defense.

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