Removing mayor from office is difficult in Md.

The Baltimore Sun

Mayor Sheila Dixon has pledged to fight the charges of theft and perjury she faces and said she will continue to serve in office.

If she is not convicted, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to remove her from office, a review of the City Charter, state constitution and legal articles shows.

There is no method for expelling a sitting mayor or members of the City Council in the City Charter, though the Maryland Constitution does have a provision that disqualifies from office any elected official who has been convicted of a crime.

If officials determine they want or need to act more quickly, they could reach out to state lawmakers: The General Assembly has the authority to impeach some elected officials.

Whether that power covers the Baltimore mayor, however, is subject to debate. The state constitution explicitly states that the governor, lieutenant governor and judges can be impeached.

But in an August 1973 opinion, then-state Attorney General Francis B. Burch wrote that it is possible that an elected Frederick County sheriff could be removed from office via impeachment. That opinion was issued after a grand jury indicted Richard O. Baumgartner on 32 counts including false pretenses, embezzlement and malfeasance in office.

The sheriff was then found guilty of three of the charges, but at that point the Maryland Constitution did not include a provision to immediately remove an official convicted of crimes.

And no Maryland official has ever been impeached.

Some would argue that the proper route for handling a removal from office would be a provision added in 1974, when the state's constitution was amended to include language that once an official is sentenced or "pleads nolo contendere" - no contest - to a felony or a misdemeanor related to his or her "public duties and responsibilities," the official "shall be suspended by operation of law without pay or benefits from the elective office."

Also, even had that provision not been added, the state's constitution, in a section referring to Baltimore, says that the city's mayor can be removed by the governor after a "conviction in a court of law."

state law

Sections of Maryland law addressing removing a public official from office:

: Section 2 Article XV of the Maryland Constitution - Outlines what happens when a public official is convicted

Section 26 Article III of the Maryland Constitution - Outlines the powers of impeachment

Section 7 Article II of the Maryland Constitution - Outlines that the General Assembly can impeach the governor, lieutenant governor and judges

August 1973 opinion by the attorney general - States that other elected officials in the state could be subject to impeachment

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