In August, Allan J. Lichtman, an American University history professor and candidate for the U.S. Senate, was barred from participating in a debate with Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin and former congressman Kweisi Mfume at Maryland Public Television studios in Owings Mills.
Also excluded because of low poll numbers were former Baltimore County Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen and Montgomery County businessman Josh Rales.
After they refused to leave the studio's vestibule when asked, Baltimore County police arrested Lichtman; his wife, Karyn Strickler; and Gail Dobson, a campaign volunteer.
"We were charged with 'trespassing on public property after hours.' Those are the exact words, and I'm not making that up," Lichtman said yesterday, from his campus office in Washington.
Three additional charges came several days later.
"We were charged with 'trespassing on public property during hours,' 'disturbing the peace by making a loud noise' and 'disobeying a police officer.' These were four criminal charges on which we could have gotten jail time," Lichtman said.
"I was told to plead guilty to one charge and the others would be dropped. I said I wasn't pleading guilty to any charge because I wasn't guilty on any of the charges," he said.
While charges against Dobson were dropped, Lichtman and his wife had their day in court Oct. 18 in Towson.
After hearing the case, Baltimore County District Judge Robert J. Steinberg found the couple not guilty on all counts.
"We were totally exonerated and fully acquitted of all charges but not before the judge gave the prosecutor a thorough tongue-lashing," Lichtman said.