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Prosecutors defend use of grand jury in Dixon case

State prosecutors in the City Hall corruption cases defended their investigation of Baltimore's mayor, arguing they did not abuse the grand jury process when they issued three subpoenas this summer before dismissing their initial indictment of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon.

Deputy State Prosecutor Thomas "Mike" McDonough contends in court papers filed Friday that new investigative material brought to a Baltimore grand jury after Dixon's original indictment in January supported the second set of indictments that were brought against Dixon in July.

The new indictments, he says, are "similar" but not "identical" to the initial one, which prosecutors subsequently dropped, and his office appropriately used the grand jury to examine new evidence not available when the January indictment was returned. Defense attorneys for the mayor had said that the state prosecutors were using the grand jury to prepare for trial.

Dixon's defense attorney, Dale P. Kelberman of Miles & Stockbridge, also has asked the prosecutors for copies of all grand jury subpoenas that have been issued since January, a request the prosecutors say they do not have to grant.

In denying that request, they contend that they have provided adequate discovery materials to the defense, saying that the state copied more than 10,000 pages of documents at its own expense and has allowed defense attorneys access to additional papers.

"The state took this approach to thwart any assertion, no matter how frivolous, that the state was hiding exculpatory information since that type of argument is in vogue," McDonough wrote.

Dixon has been charged with perjury for failing to report lavish gifts on her city ethics forms and theft for taking gift cards intended for needy families. Her trial is set for November.

Also, attorneys for indicted Councilwoman Helen L. Holton filed a motion Friday to dismiss her case, arguing that the two campaign finance charges she faces were improperly filed in a Baltimore circuit court instead of a district court.
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