The Sun


by The Baltimore Sun

October 20, 1996 Page(s): 4B
Section: METRO
Length: 1473 words
Biographee: LETTER, COLUMN

Record Number: BSUN477853


Are Gelfman, Smith tough on crime? What about governor's fund-raising?

As members of a family who lost our father to a repeat drunk driver, we feel compelled to respond to claims made by the Judge Lenore R. Gelfman-Jonathan Scott Smith campaign that they would be tough on crime if elected as Howard County Circuit judges.

In November 1992, our father, Dr. Saleem Alam Shah, was killed by a repeat drunk driver. Finally, in October 1993, a guilty plea was heard by Howard County District Court Judge Lenore Gelfman.

The defendant was represented by attorney Jonathan Scott Smith. At sentencing, the prosecutor and our family asked for the maximum five-year sentence for "Homicide by Motor Vehicle while Intoxicated." Instead, Judge Gelfman sentenced him to 18 months at the county jail with work release. Five months later, the defendant had served less than a year with work release for killing our father, which we consider to be a slap on the wrist.

Our pleas for a longer sentence fell on deaf ears. Our family was given a life sentence of living without our father; the defendant had already been given another chance. Is this what Judge Gelfman considers a "long, lengthy sentence" and "being tough on crime"?

As for Mr. Smith, while campaigning he speaks of mandatory sentences for repeat criminal offenders, yet his phone book legal ad states that he "specializes in repeat offender cases, has handled over 2,000 DWI cases and has also handled MVA hearings for license seizures." Judge Gelfman and Mr. Smith should practice what they preach.

Nancy D. Shah

Ellicott City

The letter was signed by five other members of the Shah family.

Here we go again. Another claim by Gov. Parris N. Glendening that his aggressive campaign fund-raising hasn't tarnished Maryland. This time, it appears that Judge Diane Leasure, one of his appointees to the Circuit Court, helped direct more than $17,000 into his campaign war chest, by working to organize a golf fund-raiser for him. Just a few days after that event, he had good news for her: She would be his choice to be a judge. Frankly, I have grown weary of this kind of game. Allan R. Brause Columbia

I read with much interest and disgust your recent article about Judge Diane Leasure's fund-raising activities on behalf of Gov. Parris N. Glendening just before he appointed her as a judge in the Howard County Circuit Court.

The highlight of this article was a statement from the governor's spokesman that it was "outrageous" and "extremely unfair to the governor" to make a connection between Judge Leasure's fund-raising activities and her appointment as judge.

It reminded me of the governor's reaction, after putting record-setting demands on political contributors, of claiming that he was "shocked" when Joe De Francis was caught making illegal contributions to his war chest. Or when he took a flight to New York on the private plane of a company bidding for state business and then claimed the conflict never crossed his mind. I think we can "judge" this for ourselves.

Wayne D. Albrecht

Ellicott City

In the Sept. 29 edition of The Sun in Howard, you featured two articles concerning the race for Circuit Court judge.

Judge Diane Leasure says, "I'm not afraid to make tough decisions." She sends a man to jail with college-day release as punishment for a second conviction of felony assault.

Judge Donna Hill Staton is quoted as saying, "We need judges who will act decisively to handle our toughest issues. I am such a judge." She sentences a man to a second Probation Before Judgment for a second driving while under the influence conviction.

Do these sentences enforce the community standards?

Recently, Judge Leasure passed sentence on a young man who was serving time on a similar conviction. This young man committed the second offense while out on bond for the first offense.

Do we want judges who will enforce the community standards, or do we want liberal judges with liberal agendas? The choice is yours on Nov. 5.

Fred Klonin


Pub Date: 10/20/96

Copyright 1996 The Baltimore Sun Company