The 22-year-old son of Baltimore's top prosecutor and the young man's roommate were each charged Thursday with misdemeanor assault after police said they cut each other to perform a "blood handshake" and then got into a fight.
Both men were treated at Maryland Shock Trauma Center after the Thursday morning incident at their Pigtown rowhouse on Scott Street. State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein's son, Owen, required 38 stitches to close the wound on his hand, according to city police.
Police took the unusual course of presenting the case to a District Court commissioner to determine whether either man should be charged with a crime. Owen Bernstein and Robert Hardie, 30, were each charged in a criminal summons with second-degree assault. Their trial is scheduled for Aug. 10 in District Court.
The elder Bernstein did not comment Thursday but said through a spokesman that the case will be handled by his counterpart in Montgomery County to avoid a conflict of interest.
The fight and cuttings occurred about 4 a.m. at a rowhouse shared by the young Bernstein and Hardie in the 500 block of Scott St., near Washington Boulevard. Police said a neighbor dialed 911 upon seeing one of the men lying on the sidewalk outside.
Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that Bernstein and Hardie had agreed to give each other a "blood handshake" by cutting each other's hands. He said Bernstein's cut was deep, and the two men got into a fight that involved punching and kicking.
Neither the younger Bernstein nor Hardie could be reached for comment. Because they were charged by summons, neither suspect had to go through a formal and lengthy booking process. The summonses order both to show up in court.
Hardie, however, was taken to Central Booking because police said he had an open arrest warrant for failing to appear at a court hearing.
Owen Bernstein has struggled with alcohol and drugs in the past, and his father spoke openly of some of his troubles during his campaign for state's attorney two years ago. In 2009, he was convicted in Baltimore County Circuit Court of possessing drugs with intent to distribute. He was sentenced to a suspended two-year term in prison and ordered into a drug treatment program.