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U.S. judge turns down request to intervene in Md. case

Baltimore Sun

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz swiftly denied a defense attorney's request for federal intervention in a state proceeding, dismissing the case a day after it was filed.

Attorney Gary Proctor had filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus Tuesday, contending that his 19-year-old indigent client was unconstitutionally jailed before trial without evidence to support the gun, assault and attempted murder charges against him.

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge threw out a photo identification of defendant Christopher Robinson last month because the picture had been significantly altered by police. The victim in the case has also said Robinson is not the shooter he identified.

"Unless extraordinary circumstances are present, a federal court must not interfere with ongoing state criminal proceedings," Motz wrote in a three-page order filed Wednesday and entered into the record a day later.

"Council may be frustrated with the state prosecutorial and jurisdictional process and its [effect] on his client, but the court finds this an insufficient reason to intervene before the state court criminal process plays out."

Robinson, who is being held on $800,000 bail, is scheduled for trial Jan. 26. He can "present evidence of his innocence" there, Motz wrote, assuming the trial goes forward as planned. It has been postponed once.

The prosecutor in Robinson's case has said the incident is under investigation.

Proctor's petition argued that Robinson's detention violated at least four constitutional rights, a claim he supported by "various buzz phrasing such as 'due process,' 'reasonable bail,' and 'cruel and unusual punishment,'" Motz concluded. The judge also pointed out that the $5 habeas filing fee was missing, as was an application to determine Robinson's indigence, which he characterized as a "deficiency."

Proctor declined to comment. He also filed motions in Baltimore Circuit Court this week trying to get Robinson a lower bail amount, which has previously been denied, and to have the state case dismissed based on the existence of the "doctored photo" being withheld.

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