When Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Stanley B. Frosh sentenced 18-year-old Michael Brown for burglary last week, he gave the youth two options: serve 10 consecutive weekends in the Montgomery County jail, or spend 26 weekends volunteering his services to help other county teenagers.
Brown and his attorney, William Wood, were planning to accept the latter choice - until the regional supervisor of the state Department of Juvenile Services said that adult offenders like Brown were not his department's responsibility and, according to a suit filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court yesterday, told his director of volunteer services not to find a place for Brown.
John L. Manley, the regional supervisor accused in the suit of putting a bureaucratic roadblock in the way of the judge's sentence, said yesterday he believed that the state Department of Parole and Probation was the appropriate agency to handle an adult offender.
Manley, who had heard nothing of the lawsuit when he was contacted yesterday afternoon, said that after talking with attorney Wood, "I was totally unclear what the judge had actually requested."
Manley added that "I asked Mr. Wood to go through the Juvenile Court first . . . What I said to Mr. Wood was that the Department of Parole and Probation was the organization that served the Circuit Court.
"We serve the Juvenile Court," he added.
Wood asked Judge Frosh yesterday to order Manley to rescind his refusal to allow the volunteer coordinator to find a position for Brown, but the judge deferred any action until he has had a chance to talk to Manley today.
Brown's final sentencing, originally scheduled for yesterday, was postponed because of the confusion.
"This is an example of the bureaucratic red tape constraining the court in its effort to help an 18-year-old kid," Wood asserted yesterday.
Brown was convicted Dec. 10 of burglarizing a Gaithersburg warehouse of $12,000 worth of electronic equipment. Robin Pitts, a 34-year-old man who was Brown's roommate in Hyattsville at the time of the October, 1975 burglary, is serving a one-year jail sentence.
According to Brown's suit, "the coordinator of volunteer services advised that there were numerous volunteer programs throughout Montgomery County that might need additional volunteers . . ." and listed three facilities where Brown might work.
A final interview with David Westerman, the coordinator of volunteer services, was scheduled for yesterday morning. It was this interview that Manley allegedly stopped.
"When my volunteer coordinator called me about (the meeting)," Manley said yesterday, "I said I was working on (the case) and he was not to go through with the interview."
Judge Frosh is expected to make a decision on Brown's lawsuit today, and the youth's final sentencing - either to jail or the volunteer service he would prefer - is scheduled for March 16.