- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 10, 2002

ANNAPOLIS A Maryland state senator accused of trying to sway a Court of Appeals' decision on the state's redistricting plan said she would not have called a judge on the panel unless Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Democrat, had not suggested it.
Sen. Ida G. Ruben, Montgomery County Democrat, was one of six legislators called before the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics yesterday to explain their roles in contacting judges who would decide whether to overturn a new legislative district map submitted by Gov. Parris N. Glendening or who would advise the court on the matter.
Mrs. Ruben said Mr. Miller called her to the podium during a Senate session and asked if she was a friend of Court of Appeals Judge Irma Raker, who also lives in Montgomery.
Mrs. Ruben told the panel that she replied they were friends and that Mr. Miller said, "'You might want to call her about redistricting.'"
She said she "gleaned" from the conversation that Mr. Miller wanted to preserve the Democrat-drawn plan submitted by Mr. Glendening.
Mrs. Ruben said she thought Mr. Miller had mentioned a plan that Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry, a Democrat, had submitted as an alternative. Mr. Curry's plan would have taken Prince George's County portions out of a four-county district drawn for Mr. Miller, who lives in Calvert County but had represented and lived in Prince George's for decades.
Mr. Curry's lawsuit was among several filed protesting the new map by Democrats and Republicans.
In the spring, the Maryland Republican Party filed complaints with the ethics panel and the Attorney Grievance Commission accusing Mr. Miller, a prominent lawyer, of directing Democratic senators to call judges in an attempt to influence their decisions.
Republicans said Mr. Miller should have known that private discussions with judges about matters before them is strictly forbidden.
When the accusations were made, Mr. Miller said he did not discuss pending matters but that he told Court of Appeals Judges Alan M. Wilner and Glenn T. Harrell Jr. that their decision to shift the burden to Mr. Glendening to defend his plan was "unprecedented ridiculous and wrong."
While ethics committee hearings are usually closed, Mrs. Ruben, Sen. Clarence Blount of Baltimore and Sen. Robert Neall of Anne Arundel asked to give their testimony in public.
Mr. Miller chose to keep out the public and the press while he was questioned.
Before going in, he told reporters, "The charges are totally false" and "they've hurt me personally, my family and my constituents."
Responding to the panel's questions earlier yesterday, Mrs. Ruben said her knowledge of the redistricting plans was limited and that if Judge Raker had said they could discuss redistricting, "I don't know what I would have said to her."
On June 10, the court ruled Mr. Glendening's redistricting plan unconstitutional and within weeks drew new lines that would define state lawmakers' districts for the next 10 years.


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