- The Washington Times - Friday, December 21, 2001

BALTIMORE (AP) As Baltimore's number of homicides in 2001 nears last year's total, Mayor Martin O'Malley said publicly that the federal judges and the top federal prosecutor aren't doing their part to help fight crime.
When questioned by reporters about the homicide total now at 250 Mr. O'Malley blamed U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio for accepting fewer state gun cases in the harsher federal system.
Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, said Mr. DiBiagio was told by U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz during a swearing-in ceremony last Friday not to take too many street-crime cases. Judge Motz warned Mr. DiBiagio, a Republican, against flooding the docket by hearing too many of those cases.
Mr. DiBiagio has been on the job since September.
"Apparently, they feel that murders that happen in Baltimore city are things that are unimportant street crimes the federal government can't deal with on its crushed docket [with] all those important cases regarding the illegal importation of caviar and protecting federally protected geese from being baited for hunting, … I think that's really sad," Mr. O'Malley said.
What qualifies as "ordinary street crime" in the city of Baltimore would be taken more seriously by the feds if it happened in Baltimore County, Mr. O'Malley said.
Judge Motz said that statement was out of line.
"I consider the remark to be intemperate, unfounded, and outrageous, and I will not dignify it with any comment," Judge Motz said.
Mr. DiBiagio declined to comment.
Homicides in Baltimore are now within 11 of last year's total of 261. The city has seen 68 slayings in the last 80 days.
Mr. O'Malley released statistics showing that the number of gun cases moving through federal court has declined, but Mr. DiBiagio's office did not comment.
"It would be great if the prosecutorial functions of this town would get into this fight," against violent crime, Mr. O'Malley said. "It's really maddening."
U.S. Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Baltimore County Republican, defended federal attorneys and said Mr. DiBiagio's office is about to begin an anti-gun-crime program that would divide cases between state and federal courts. The cases would be handed to the court where the punishment would be strongest.
The program is similar to Richmond's Project Exile, Mr. Ehrlich said.

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