A veteran Anne Arundel County prosecutor was found not guilty of drunken driving yesterday, on charges stemming from a July car accident in Annapolis.
Deputy State's Attorney Gerald K. Anders, 50, of Annapolis, was convicted of failure to yield the right of way and fined $50 plus $15 court costs in Annapolis District Court yesterday by Judge Joseph Anthony Ciotola Sr., a retired judge from Baltimore recruited to handle the case.
Mr. Anders had been charged with failure to yield the right of way, negligent driving and driving under the influence of alcohol after a July 27 car accident along Rowe Boulevard near its intersection with Taylor Avenue.
Annapolis police said Mr. Anders' 1983 Pontiac collided with a pickup truck being driven by James Stansbury of Odenton. Mr. Anders was turning left onto Taylor from Rowe shortly before 8 p.m. No one was seriously injured in the accident.
The case's outcome prompted sharp criticism yesterday from John R. Greiber Jr., an Annapolis lawyer challenging State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee in the 1994 election.
Mr. Greiber said Mr. Anders' refusal to take a Breathalyzer test after the accident should be enough for Mr. Weathersbee to ask him to resign. "Anders beat the system," Mr. Greiber said. "I find it absolutely unconscionable."
This was Mr. Anders' second drunken driving charge. In 1983, he was convicted of driving under the influence, fined $100 and ordered to alcohol counseling.
Mr. Weathersbee said Mr. Anders continues to undergo treatment for his alcohol problem. He said he has no intention of firing him.
"Firing someone before the outcome of a trial is inconsistent with any sense of fairness. At this point, what am I going to fire him for, having an alcohol problem and seeking treatment? Being in a car accident?" Mr. Weathersbee said.
The state's attorney said he made sure his office stayed away from prosecution of the case. An assistant state's attorney and a retired District Court judge were both brought in from Baltimore to handle it, according to court records.
George Lantzas, Mr. Anders' attorney, said Judge Ciotola, former administrative judge for the Baltimore District Court, dismissed the drunken driving and negligent driving charges because none of the state's witnesses conclusively established that alcohol was a factor in the accident.
"There was some testimony that someone thought they smelled alcohol on his breath, but that was it," Mr. Lantzas said.
Mr. Lantzas said Mr. Anders still faces the possibility of losing his license for refusing to submit to the Breathalyzer test. Whether he will be allowed to keep driving will depend on the outcome of an administrative hearing before the state Motor Vehicle Administration later this week, he said.
Mr. Anders is currently driving on a temporary license issued by the MVA to motorists who appeal the loss of their driver's licenses because of refusal to take the Breathalyzer test.
Mr. Lantzas said his client never actually refused a Breathalyzer test, but was strapped to a gurney at the accident and rushed to the Anne Arundel Medical Center, where he was treated and discharged.
"How do you refuse when you're strapped up like that?" he asked.