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Leopold seeks reversal of conviction, clearance to run for office

Attorneys for former Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold are arguing in court documents his convictions on vague charges should be overturned and that the judge had no authority to bar him from running for office.

In a brief filed this month with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, Leopold's attorneys are appealing the sentence handed down by retired Judge Dennis Sweeney, who heard the case in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

Specifically, Leopold's attorneys argue Sweeney doesn't have the authority to bar Leopold from running for elected office while he serves a five-year probation.

Leopold declined to comment Monday, but in July he told The Baltimore Sun he would like to one day run for office again — though he did not specify an office. He said he was inspired by his court-ordered community service work at the Anne Arundel County Food & Resource Bank and felt he had more to offer the public.

Leopold, a Republican, was convicted in January of two counts of misconduct in office related to directing county employees to carry out personal tasks. He resigned from office, served 30 days in jail and was replaced as county executive by Laura Neuman.

In the brief, Leopold attorneys Bruce L. Marcus and Robert C. Bonsib argue that the misconduct charges against him were "a veritable mix and match of allegedly criminal behaviors, none of which standing alone was criminal." They say the officers on Leopold's police detail and his employees did not think emptying the executive's catheter bag or delivering campaign signs amounted to illegal activity.

And those who didn't want to deal with the catheter or campaign signs were not penalized by Leopold, the attorneys argue.

On Monday, Marcus declined to comment further, saying he does not discuss pending cases.

Oral arguments in Leopold's appeal are expected in January.

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