Post reporters Tim Craig and Nikita Stewart were online earlier today to discuss D.C. city councilman Marion Barry and his weekend arrest. Here are some excerpts from the discussion:
Arlington, Va.: This is Barry's third run in with the Park Police since 2002 (suspected drug use in his car, driving without a valid license, misdemeanor bothering/stalking)? Does anyone think that the D.C. police aren't catching him doing similar things but looking the other way because of who he is?
Tim Craig: This is an interesting question. Barry supporters will argue that the Park Police have it out for the former mayor. Park Police maintain that the arresting officer on Saturday did not even realize whom he was arresting. Some have suggested that Barry hire a driver to guard against future encounters with police...May not be a bad idea, but then the question would become how could he afford a driver when he can't pay his taxes on time?
Washington, D.C.: How is this man still in office after not paying D.C. taxes? I get federal taxes not being paid, but he's on the City Council. Is this representation without taxation?
Nikita Stewart: Barry is an elected official. If a majority of his constituents considered his nonpayment of taxes a major issue, he might not be in office. Many people in Ward 8, which he represents, can remember him as mayor and believe he helped this city in many ways. He had an easy re-election last year and is only in the first year of this four-year term. Maybe we'll see a change in the political wind if he runs again in 2012. But it's too early to tell.
Leesburg, Va.: What is worst-case scenario for him? Is the probation violation potentially a larger issue than the stalking charge?
Tim Craig: Yes. The probation violation does appear to be his greatest potential legal challenge.
Its really hard to see how Mr. Barry can be in serious legal jeopardy on the merits of this stalking incident alone, absent some other piece of evidence that has yet to surface.
But he could land in jail if he is found to have violated his probation. Barry's arrest is technically a violation of his probation. But sources told the Washington Post this morning tthat prosecutors and judges generally look at the facts of the case before deciding how to proceed.
Mr. Barry's attorney said this morning he doubts a judge will find his client in violation based on the facts so far in the alleged stalking incident.
Takoma Park, D.C.: This is so Barry. He's a drama king who surrounds himself with drama queens. It sounds as if he and the woman he allegedly stalked deserve each other.
My question: your article indicates that the woman in question says she never told the Park Police she was being stalked, but rather Barry was stopped for a traffic violation. At the very least, this would seem to indicate that she does not want to press charges. Shouldn't that be the end of it?
washingtonpost.com: Barry Attorney Adds New Version of Events in Stalking Case (Post, July 6)
Tim Craig: It remains very murky what the alleged victim wants.
I just updated the story for the website based on an interview I had with her a few hours ago. She said she never wanted Barry arrested, but now that he has been, she plans to cooperate with prosecutors. She said she is gathering "evidence" such as emails to hand over to authorities.
But her previously statements about not wanting him charged, will undoubtedly surface in a trial if formal charges are brought. Barry's attorneys are salivating over the possibility of getting to cross-exam her on the stand - which is one reason they feel pretty confident prosecutors will drop the charge.