Judge Rules Against Both Hall and Alston in House of Delegates Seat

"The circumstances of this case do little for the good name and reputation of our state," judge says

A Prince George's County judge has has ruled against both community activist Greg Hall and former delegate Tiffany Alston, who were vying for Alston's old seat in the Maryland House of Delegates.

The county's Democratic Central Committee had nominated Hall to succeed Alston, who was convicted of stealing money from the state. But the nomination, which was sent to Gov. Martin O'Malley Nov. 7, met opposition from critics due to Hall's past, and O'Malley attempted to rescind the appointment. Hall then sued to stop the action, and Alston sued to get her seat back.

"The circumstances of this case do little for the good name and reputation of our state, and even less, our county," Prince George's County Circuit Court Judge C. Philip Nichols Jr. said in his decision Wednesday.

The decision paves the way for the committee to suggest a new nomination, but it has lost the opportunity to appoint someone. The next steps will have to be determined in the coming days, reports News4's Tracee Wilkins.

A day earlier, an attorney for Hall had urged the judge to order Gov. Martin O'Malley to approve the appointment.

Walter Green, Hall's attorney, argued that O’Malley had missed the deadline for withdrawing Hall’s name, saying, “The governor must make the appointment within 30 days and if he does not, he has violated his oath of office. The governor has acted with prejudice against Mr. Hall.”

But a lawyer representing the governor said it was up to O'Malley to make the final call on the appointment -- not the county's committee.

An attorney representing the committee said the panel had decided make another nomination after O'Malley learned more about Hall's past, but then Hall went to court to block any action. The committee's attorney said the panel should be able to withdraw the nomination.

Hall's nomination met with controversy over his own legal woes. He faced drug and gun charges about 20 years ago following a shootout, back when he was an admitted drug dealer.

Hall was accused of firing a gun that killed a 13-year-old boy, but it was later determined that the bullet came from someone else’s gun, and Hall was released.

“I wasn’t the first one to do the shooting, to take the shot,” Hall said. “The shot was shot at me, so the same person was trying to harm me as well.”

He was convicted of a misdemeanor gun charge and was cleared of the murder charge. “I never committed a crime in office, and that’s important,” Hall said. “I straightened my life out.”

That didn't matter to some committee members. Hall's nomination was determined by a close 12-10 vote.

“When you make the types of mistakes that cause a [death] of a young child, then to me that’s not something that you just wake up one day and say ‘I’ve been redeemed,'" said Committee Chair Terry Speigner said.

Meanwhile, ousted delegate Tiffany Alston had been fighting to get her seat back, arguing that her conviction for misconduct in office was modified to probation before judgment.

She took a plea deal in October stemming from the charge that she used $800 of the state's money to pay an employee in her private law firm.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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