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In Maryland, differing views on trial's outcome; Though glad it is over, residents are split on the question of guilt; THE IMPEACHMENT VERDICT


The Senate acquitted President Clinton yesterday, and Marylanders said it's about time.

Tonya Berkley, owner of Kente Rose, a Baltimore flowers-and-balloons gift shop, was standing beside her delivery van at Lexington Market soon after the Senate vote.

She had been following the trial closely but said, "It's not like we were holding our breath, waiting to see what would happen.

"They wasted our time," she said of Congress. "We've known this for days, and I'm happy that it's finally over. The president can finally get on with running the country."

Berkley, 36, noted the wording of the verdict. "Not guilty that's what the congressmen said. They didn't say innocent."

Disappointed in verdict

Jessica Thomas, a human resources employee at BT Alex. Brown Inc., was disappointed with the verdict. "I just feel that after the entire ordeal well, he's obviously guilty," she said as she ate lunch at the Gallery at the Inner Harbor.

"And I feel like there should be a consequence to his actions."

Thomas, 22, was glad that Congress held a trial.

Steven Kane, a downtown bookstore manager from Owings Mills, disagreed, saying he believes the House never had a case.

"I think it was just a highly publicized Republican tirade against Clinton," he said. "I think the Republicans are getting just what they're asking for and I think they put him through miserable things."

Dr. Spencer Gibbins, a psychologist from Chesapeake Beach, said he's "hopeful that it's over," but doubts the matter is truly closed.

Impeachment 'a sham'

"I think that he was guilty," said Gibbins, 57, "but I really think the whole thing was a sham because it was so partisan and I think the way it was handled in such a partisan manner was wrong. I don't think the House should have reached a verdict of impeachment."

Bill Shaughnessy, an attorney from Jacksonville, Baltimore County, agreed that Clinton's actions in the Lewinsky affair did not constitute grounds for impeachment.

He is glad the trial ended when it did, without a "whole parade of witnesses," but considered it to have been an atypical trial.

"No live witnesses, just depositions and testimonies it's a little odd," said Shaughnessy, 42.

But he praised independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr for his performance. "He was very aggressive. I think he did the best job he could have, under the circumstances."

Remsey Abaddir, 31, a taxi driver from Woodlawn who is originally from Ethiopia, said that had Clinton been judged by Islamic standards, "he would have been stoned."

"Since he's a moral force for the country, he should act responsibly," he said, "and since I'm from a religious background, I feel he should take responsibility." But yesterday's announcement didn't surprise Abaddir, 31, and he said that if Clinton were to run for office again, he might vote for him. "He's a good leader," Abaddir said.

Pub Date: 2/13/99

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