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Judge locks up youth who's late for court

December 15, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

An 11-year-old Baltimore boy was held briefly in a Washington County Courthouse holding cell Wednesday after appearing late in juvenile court.

After the boy's case was called and he didn't show up, Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley, sitting in juvenile court, said he got a message from the boy's mother, saying she left for court from Baltimore at 9 a.m., the time for which the case was scheduled.

The boy was charged with stealing $1.99 worth of lighters.

After learning from the boy's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Brian Hutchison, that the boy was 11 and that the store got the lighters back, Beachley at first said he would hear the case when the boy arrived and not worry about issuing a bench warrant, forcing him to sit in the holding cell until the case was called. But Deputy State's Attorney Steven Kessell said the boy has had experience with the juvenile system, including past contacts for malicious burning. A Department of Juvenile Services representative said the boy's mother has not been cooperative in the past with informal charges. The representative said she sent the case to court to give the mother and son a wake-up call.

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Kessell said the boy's mother might be a problem, but added, "He's the one engaging in the underlying behavior."

After hearing that, Beachley said, "I changed my mind. Put him in lockup."

When the boy arrived, he was placed in the holding cell. During a break from another proceeding, Beachley called the boy's case. He told the boy's mother that he appreciated her call, but, "You can't leave Baltimore at 9 o'clock to be here at 9 o'clock."

The boy's case was placed on the inactive docket. The boy was told not to return to Washington County.

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