No criminal charges will be filed against Baltimore Clerk of Courts Frank M. Conaway Sr. or blogger Adam Meister stemming from a November altercation outside Conaway's home.
The determination was made by Steven Kroll, a special prosecutor appointed by State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein to handle the investigation. "I found that the state could not prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt," Kroll said in a brief interview.
Police had said that on Nov. 20, officers had witnessed Meister try to kick Conaway and saw Conaway display a handgun that state police said had an expired permit. Both men potentially faced charges; a police report described Meister's actions as a "common assault," and classified the report about Conaway's weapon as a "handgun violation."
According to Kroll, Conaway's permit had not actually expired. Maryland's public safety law states that "a permit expires on the last day of the holder's birth month following two years after the date the permit was issued."
"Mr. Conaway secured his permit from the Maryland State Police in May 2009. His next birthday following the two years since the permit was issued is in March 2012," Kroll said in a news release. "Consequently, Mr. Conaway's handgun permit expires on March 31, 2012, and not on March 31, 2011, as initially reported. The records on which the initial report was based did not reflect the accurate expiration date."
Reached for comment, Conaway was relieved that the case was closed. He said he took exception to how a police spokesman had initially described his actions, saying Conaway "brandished" the firearm.
"He's either a liar, or he doesn't know the meaning of brandishment," Conaway said Wednesday.
Warren Brown, who represented Meister, said the incident was "childish, dumb stuff" and criticized police. "They thought he was robbing Conaway," Brown said. "You've got a frail white boy in the 'hood, talking to a black guy on a very busy [street] corner. Give me a break."
The incident was the latest twist in a political feud involving Meister and the Conaway family. Meister, who was sued by Conaway's daughter for $21 million after writing about tax credits on her homes, had said the 78-year-old took a swing at him after the two engaged in an argument as the 35-year-old was jogging through the neighborhood.
But unknown to Meister, city police officers who were parked in a vehicle nearby were observing the incident and approached Conaway afterward.
"I was fortunate that they were sitting across the street," said Conaway at the time. "I don't aimlessly throw punches. If I threw one, I wouldn't have missed."