Op/Ed: J. Wyndal Gordon v. Baltimore City State's Attorney Bernstein's Overwhelming Ineptitude & "Underwhelming" Performance in Office
By Attorney J. Wyndal Gordon, Esquire
(BALTIMORE - January 30, 2011 ) - This is just the beginning and it is going to get worse. Newly Elected Baltimore City State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein is overwhelmingly inept, and has put on an "underwhelming" performance during his first 30 days in office. If we take a snap shot of his performance just dealing with the Shomrim case, you'll understand why he was the absolute worst person for the State's Attorney job. Not analyzed in this Note but mentioned for what its worth, Bernstein has been (1) silent on the shooting of Ofr. Torbit and Sean Gamble outside of Select NightClub, (2) silent on Det. Anthony Fata's questionable or perhaps even false statement to police about a shootout with an alleged "Black" assailant in a downtown parking garage (that resulted in helicopter deployment, police man power, depletion of crime fighting budget, and "Black" men in the area being accosted by law enforcement during the investigation’s initial stages), and (3) silent on the bewildering disappearance of Phyllicia Barnes, the Honor student visiting Baltimore from NC.
Bernstein's administration has proven to: (a) engage in the "selective prosecution" of Jewish Offenders, (b) reward Jewish Offenders with "special treatment" by the Criminal Justice System, and (c) implement "discriminatory prosecutorial polices" that disparately impact non-Jewish Offenders and non-Jewish victims of crimes by Jewish Offenders. Did I have to mention that Gregg Bernstein is Jewish?
As it relates to the Shomrim case, Bernstein does not seem to be familiar with the Victim's Rights Act and engages in practices that not only violate the Act but could possibly be seen [by some] as an ethical violation under the Maryland Lawyers Rules of Professional Conduct 1.4 entitled "Communication". Bernstein does not communicate with non-Jewish victims of Jewish [hate] crime in direct violation of the Victims Rights Act under Criminal Procedure Article, Title 11. Here to date, he has rejected the Victim's Rights Act as it pertains to this African American child victim who was "jumped" by three grown "MEN" Jewish Offenders. Despite direct inquiry, Bernstein has not communicated with the victim/victim's family/ or representative, at all, regarding any decisions he has made or is considering in the Shomrim case. In fact, he has refused to discuss them at all. Yet he has chosen to "selectively prosecute" the minor offenses against the Jewish attackers, and drop, rather than prosecute the serious offenses for which the evidence clearly supports and would likely land the Jewish Offenders a jail "stay-cation" --especially if it was coupled with a Hate crime violation.
In addition to the selective prosecution, the Bernstein "Teddy Bear" has been cozy with the Jewish defendants in this case by sparing them the indignity and stigma associated with their criminal conduct and rewarding them with "special treatment". Avi Werdesheim, the second man charged, has not been arrested, nor suffered the humiliation of being booked, "mugshotted", fingerprinted and processed at Central Bookings. Nor has his risk of flight, or risk to public safety ever been assessed by a judge or court commissioner. To date, there is not even an arrest record to memorialize his involvement in this violent act motivated by hate. His brother is a dual citizen of Israel, and Bernstein has not even endeavored to inquire whether Avi Werdesheim enjoys the same dual citizenship. If he did he'd probably find that Avi Werdesheim is eligible to take flight to Israel at any moment to escape his pending charges here in Baltimore.
Have we ever seen or heard of such luxuries afforded any non-Jewish defendants courtesy of Bernstein's Office? I haven't in my 15 years of practicing law in this State. As it stands now, the latest Jewish defendant charged with the assault of the 15 y.o. in Park Heights has not been required to post a bond to secure his appearance in Court on February 16, 2011. Any other criminal charged with second degree assault, false imprisonment, and use of a deadly weapon with intent to injure would have been looking at a bail in Baltimore City no less that $100,000-150,000 --perhaps even $250,000-$350,000. Eli Werdesheim when charged with first degree [felony] assault was only required to post a meager $50,000 and was allowed to travel to Israel for vacation. With 1% down to post a bond these days, he could have easily bailed out with the nominal payment of $500 to virtually any Bondsman within the State. Again, his brother Avi, merely received a summons to appear in court --How polite of you Bernstein, --now that's really being tough on violent offenders. That’s showing them who’s in charge. People, this type of special treatment is unheard of in this town for non-Jewish offenders. In fact, it’s virtually non-existent.
Bernstein has failed or refuses to treat these Jewish criminal defendants in the same manner as other criminal defendants in this city solely because they are Jewish. It is unfair, unfortunate, and wrong. It sends the message that Bernstein is unapologetically insensitive to his majority constituency, and his own hubris has him convinced that Baltimore City is okay with his administration's discriminatory policies. For a man who ran his campaign on being a trial lawyer, fairness, and tough on crime, and who had the audacity to discredit the Jessamy administration for losing cases, he's turned out to be the antithesis of everything he'd promised to be. Who ever heard of a trial lawyer who’s scared to try the big cases and bring the big charges against Jewish defendants merely because they’re Jewish? At least Jessamy would try a case --win lose or draw. She would not drop serious charges against a Black offender, woman offender, or Christian offender simply because she was Black, woman, and Christian. At least, in that regard she had the stones to do what's right. Bernstein, on the other hand, has no heart for trying big cases (this case is one of the rare "slam dunks" really --3 men stalked teen in a vehicle, then alighted from vehicle, "to jump" the teen for walking down the sidewalk in a Jewish Community; they threw him to the ground, used martial arts to break hand/wrist, then struck him multiple times in head with radio so hard that he required stitches. Serious physical injuries abound the facts of this case and they are all supported by testimony, medical records, bills, etc.; a real trial lawyer would love to prosecute a case like this --not Bernstein), and no heart for prosecuting Jewish Offenders to the fullest extent of the law. To that end, Bernstein is soft on Jewish [hate] crime when the victim is non-Jewish. His campaign slogan should have read "Bernstein, Tough on Non-Jewish Crime!" But I wonder how many votes he would have received if there was any real truth in his political campaign efforts.
If Bernstein believes he's still in private practice where he can "cherry pick" the cases he wants to try and disregard or negotiate "lopsided defense favorable" settlements in those he does not, he's WRONG. THIS IS NOT PRIVATE PRACTICE BERNSTEIN, THIS IS PUBLIC SERVICE! YOU CAN'T CHERRY PICK CASES IN PUBLIC OFFICE; YOU HAVE TO PROSECUTE THEM ALL. IN A HIGH PROFILE CASE LIKE SHOMRIM, IF YOUR OFFICE /ADMINISTRATION IS GOING TO HAVE ANY CREDIBILITY AT ALL, YOU MUST BRING TO JUSTICE ALL 3 DEFENDANTS (INCLUDING THE ONE YOU HAVE REFUSED TO ARREST [MR. "R"] AND PROSECUTE THEM), AND YOU MUST PROSECUTE THEM TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW! Again, Mr. Bernstein, I have no doubt that your refusal to do so up to now is only because the defendants are Jewish. If I'm wrong, prove me wrong! But as of today, your Office/Administration has zero "0" credibility for its ability to reduce violent crime, and as for fairness, --zero "0" credibility overall. Your job is not to just prosecute "Black" crime in this city; your job is to prosecute "Crime". Your Office policies are currently discriminatory, and I exhort you to change them at once.
Don’t let the reputation of the State’s Attorney Office become the mongrel of the Baltimore City police department in the eyes of the citizenry. The Assistant State’s Attorneys, who do the real work everyday prosecuting major crime in this City to make it safer, deserve better. Your discriminatory policies impair their credibility before the public as well; imagine the shameful criticism an Assistant would receive if he was forced to defend one of your “shady” policies toward these Jewish defendants. Your selective prosecution of this case is making a damned good prosecutor look bad too; --it’s not just you. For all the above reasons, Bernstein, you get an "F" for your first 30 days in Office and the "F" stands for Fail.
--J. Wyndal Gordon "The Warrior Lawyer!"