Baltimore Ex-Councilman Murder Case Shows Justice System Woes


Glance at Charles McGaney’s rap sheet, and you wonder why he wasn’t in jail when police say he and two others shot and killed former City Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr. outside a jazz club, says Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Hermann. On June 13, prosecutors dropped a drug charge against him because “laboratory report not available.” In August, he pleaded guilty to possessing a .handgun and is sentenced to jail for 85 days, the time he’d already served awaiting trial. In September, theft charges involving two stolen 17-inch chrome Cadillac tire rims were dropped after two city officers and the victim didn’t show up for trial.

McGaney’s resume shows an all-too-familiar series of missed opportunities, sloppy work, bureaucratic foul-ups, uncaring victims, and uncooperative witnesses, says Hermann. “In short, it’s symptomatic of a beleaguered criminal justice system that has long struggled to keep pace with crime.” A man convicted of a handgun charge for which he could have been imprisoned for two years serves fewer than three months, and now he’s accused of killing a former councilman a few weeks after he walks out of jail. Sound painfully familiar?


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