- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Prince George’s County man chosen to replace former Maryland Delegate Tiffany Alston is still in line to take her place after state officials on Tuesday ruled her seat to be vacant and a county committee declined to act on the governor’s request to withdraw his appointment.

Gov. Martin O’Malley had asked the Prince George’s Democratic Central Committee to rescind its appointment of Greg Hall while the state attorney general’s office determined whether Ms. Alston was eligible to return to office.

The attorney general’s office issued its opinion shortly before the Tuesday night during which the committee was expected to vote. At the meeting, committee members voted 12-8 not to act on the governor’s request.

Mr. Hall also filed a lawsuit earlier in the day seeking a restraining order to block the committee from withdrawing his appointment.

The committee’s decision not to act means that Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, still has until Monday to finalize the appointment. He is required to do so, according to the state constitution.

“I would suspect that Governor O’Malley had no reason at this time, since he received the formal opinion, to ask the committee to withdraw Mr. Hall’s name,” said Walter Green, an attorney for Mr. Hall. “The purpose of the request had been satisfied by the time that we came here tonight.”

Mr. Hall was chosen in a 12-10 vote this month to replace Ms. Alston, who pleaded guilty last month to charges that she used campaign funds to pay for her wedding.

Last week, a judge downgraded her conviction to probation because she completed the community service required in her sentence.

Her lawyers argued that this made her eligible to return to office, and Mr. O’Malley asked the attorney general’s office on Friday to look into the issue.

The attorney general’s office gave its answer on Tuesday afternoon, saying that Ms. Alston is still barred from office because the court’s revision did not amount to a declaration that her conviction was unjust.

Aside from Ms. Alston’s legal troubles, the central committee has also been reconsidering its appointment after details emerged that Mr. Hall was involved in a shootout 20 years ago that killed a 13-year-old bystander.

Mr. Hall, now 42, was initially charged with murder but the charge was dropped after investigators determined another man fired the first shot and fired the lethal bullet.

Many county officials have come to Mr. Hall’s defense, saying that he has been open about his past and now leads an exemplary life as a married father and business owner.

Mr. Hall has argued that the committee does not have the authority to withdraw its selection. Another attorney general’s opinion issued Tuesday said that it does.

Mr. Green said his lawsuit will likely be rendered moot if the governor finalizes the appointment.

“I believe our governor believes in redemption, so he shall appoint,” Mr. Hall said.

• David Hill can be reached at dhill@washingtontimes.com.

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