Accused Maryland Driver Walks in Fatal Motorcycle Accident Case: Court Scheduling Error Blamed

Charges against a Port Republic, Maryland driver blamed in a fatal motorcycle crash were dropped Nov. 5, because the State Trooper who made the traffic violation charges against her was not present at the trial due to a court scheduling error.

In Calvert County District Court, Sarah E. Brown, 50, faced charges of negligent driving, failure to yield right of way, and failure to secure a child under 8 in a safety seat in a collision on Aug. 1 that killed motorcycle rider Larry G. Hogan II, 43.

Also a resident of Port Republic, Maryland, Hogan worked for Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative for over two decades. He volunteered for the Dunkirk and St. Leonard fire departments and he enjoyed bowling. He was also a motorcycle enthusiast. Hogan was riding his motorcycle when motorist Sarah E. Brown turned her vehicle left onto Broomes Island Road and failed to yield to the motorcyclist. Hogan’s bike hit the rear of her vehicle and he suffered fatal injuries.

The case went to trial Nov. 5 in Calvert County District Court. But Judge Robert Riddle dropped the charges against Brown when Maryland State Police Trooper David Saucerman — the charging police officer in the case — failed to show up in court. Apparently the Annapolis District Court, which notifies police officers of trial dates, made a misprint that listed Brown’s court date as Jan. 5, and not Nov. 5. Calvert County State’s Attorney Laura Martin promised the victim’s family she would review the prosecution charges. Mr. Hogan’s grieving family must be wondering, “How can this happen?”

I wish that I could say that this is the first time that we have seen this type of confusion on the part of the courts and investigating police. Unfortunately, it is usually the innocent victim and their families who suffer as a result of this neglect. In Maryland civil matters, it is the injured individual (the Plaintiff) who has the burden of proving his or her claim. While this District Court error does not bar the family from suing civilly, it certainly will not help the civil case. The lesson to be learned here is that one must be proactive with all parties involved in matters such as this, including the courts and authorities. One phone call to the courts or the police officer could have avoided this result.

Charges dropped in death of biker: Scheduling confusion kept officer out of court
Nov. 7, 2008 SoMdNews.com

Driver not sentenced in motorcycle death due to court scheduling error Clutch & Chrome Nov. 18, 2008
Related Web Resources

Motorcycle Safety Foundation: For Car Drivers

Maryland State Police