MARYLAND BRIEFING

MARYLAND BRIEFING

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY

Businesses and Smoker Challenge Cigar Law in Court

A cigar wholesaler, several retailers and a cigar enthusiast have filed suit against Prince George's County, arguing that the county overstepped its legal authority when it adopted a ban on the sale of cigars in packages of less than five.

The County Council passed a bill in November that classified cigars in certain instances as drug paraphernalia and banned the sale of single cigars. The legislation, signed by County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), was intended to curb the use of blunts, cigars hollowed out and filled with marijuana. The county was the first jurisdiction in the country to pass such legislation.

The cigar supporters filed suit in Prince George's Circuit Court yesterday, arguing that tobacco laws should be passed by the state rather than counties. Saying that their business will be hurt by the legislation, which is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 8, the businesses and the cigar lover asked the court to enjoin the county from enforcing the law, declare it unconstitutional and award the plaintiffs $20 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

County spokesman John Erzen declined to comment on the litigation.

-- Rosalind S. Helderman

WESTERN MARYLAND

Teenager Charged as Adult In Murder Solicitation Case

A 15-year-old girl charged in Hagerstown with soliciting a friend to kill her father will be tried as an adult in a case stemming from her father's fatal stabbing on Halloween.

Danielle Black remains held without bond in a juvenile detention facility. She was charged as a juvenile this month with solicitation of first-degree murder in the death of her father, Billy Lee Black.

Maryland law mandates that juveniles charged with murder be waived into adult court.

Prosecutors have said the girl asked a male schoolmate in October to kill her father after telling him her father had physically abused her. Investigators said they found no evidence of abuse.

A third person, 19-year-old Alec Eger, is charged with killing Billy Black. Prosecutors said Danielle Black knew Eger.

-- Associated Press


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