Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger said Wednesday he will request an outside prosecutor to handle the case of County Councilman Todd Huff, who was arrested last weekend on charges of driving under the influence.
"We think this is appropriate to avoid any appearance of impropriety, since the County Council, which obviously includes Mr. Huff, controls the state's attorney budget," Shellenberger said. "We have done this in the past with similar cases, and we think it is prudent that we have an outside prosecutor handle this case from start to finish."
Shellenberger said the prosecutor would likely be sought from a neighboring jurisdiction. In 2005, a Harford County prosecutor handled the Baltimore County DUI case of then-Councilman Stephen G. Samuel Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat.
Huff, a Lutherville Republican, was stopped on York Road in Towson around 2:30 a.m. Saturday after allegedly driving without headlights. Police said he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.20. The legal limit is 0.08.
The councilman has not spoken to the news media since being charged, but in a statement released this week said that he "made a very poor decision" on Saturday and that he would relinquish his county-owned Jeep Grand Cherokee, which he was driving the night of the arrest.
Huff has requested a jury trial in county Circuit Court, according to electronic court records. He is being represented by Towson lawyer John Grason Turnbull III, who did not return calls for comment Wednesday.
According to charging documents filed by police, Huff called county Police Chief Jim Johnson after he was arrested and asked him to call him back. In a voice mail recording released by police this week, Huff tells the chief that he was pulled over and was drinking that night. Police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said the message was left at 3:08 a.m.
"Hey Jim, this is Todd," Huff says in the recording, which was first obtained by Patch.com. "Apparently I was pulled over because I didn't have my headlights on ... Yes, and I was drinking. So can you please call me back, all right — on my cell phone?"
The councilman also called the chief at 3:19 a.m. and 3:25 a.m., Armacost said, but did not leave messages.
Johnson returned Huff's call at 6:39 a.m., she added. The chief did not leave a message when Huff didn't pick up, and the two have not spoken or otherwise communicated about the arrest, she said.
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