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Assault charge dropped against Joyce

December 22, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown-based attorney Jerome Joyce spent the first half of his afternoon in Washington County District Court Tuesday playing with a child in a hallway and successfully defending a man who had been charged with panhandling in the city.

He spent the second half of the afternoon defending himself against a charge that he assaulted a veteran Hagerstown Police Department officer inside police headquarters.

Prosecuting attorneys Mark K. Boyer, representing the City of Hagerstown, and Patricia McLane, a special prosecutor from the Frederick County State's Attorney's Office, opted to terminate prosecution against Joyce, who represented himself, less than two hours after proceedings began Tuesday.

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Joyce, 56, of Clear Spring had been charged with second-degree assault.

The Hagerstown Police Department had alleged that Joyce grabbed Officer Carroll Braun by the throat on Sept. 30 at police headquarters, challenged him to a fight and waited outside of the department.

The prosecutors' decision came more than one hour after retired Baltimore County District Judge John Coolahan, sitting in Washington County District Court, ruled in favor of Joyce's request to review Braun's personnel records and called a recess. Joyce said information, including internal investigations involving Braun, was significant to the case and would raise credibility issues regarding the 17-year police department veteran.

Coolahan said he believed "the state has made a wise decision."

McLane said prosecutors decided not to go through with the trial because they believed Joyce was trying to use the court proceeding to publicly shame Braun and Joyce's estranged wife, Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion.

Joyce, during the September incident, accused Braun of having a sexual relationship with Cirincion, court records state.

Boyer said during the proceedings that Joyce was on a "fishing expedition" in asking the judge to look at Braun's personnel file. Although Coolahan said he agreed with Boyer, he ruled in Joyce's favor on the issue.

After the charge was withdrawn Tuesday, Joyce said he would not take a deal offered by prosecutors because he was not guilty.

"I think it was appropriate," Joyce said of the prosecutors' decision not to proceed. "I think it's unfortunate that a personal matter could not be settled man to man."

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