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Judge rules Baltimore mayor had power to institute Curfew

BALTIMORE — A Baltimore judge Tuesday upheld the authority of the city’s mayor to declare a curfew.

The ruling came as part of the case against Andy Schmidt, a man arrested for allegedly violating the 10 p.m. curfew on May 1.

On that day, the same day criminal charges were filed against the six officers in the Freddie Gray case, a large contingent of police officers moved in on a small group of protesters still positioned in the City Hall plaza after the 10 p.m. curfew instituted by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake went into effect.

One of the protesters caught up in the scuffle was Schmidt, who could be seen live on WBAL-TV being wrestled to the ground.

Schmidt was criminally charged with a curfew violation, second-degree assault and resisting arrest. The police charging document accused Schmidt of hitting an officer with his fist; a charge Schmidt denies.

But his lawyer, in court Tuesday, argued a larger point: the curfew itself was unlawful, and as a result, the charges should be dismissed.

“My argument was that at no time did Mayor Rawlings-Blake have the authority to issue a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m,” attorney Domenic Iamele said. “That was never a power given to her by any lawful right or authority.”

Prosecutors countered with case law from 1869 in Hagerstown, which upheld the right of the mayor there at that time to impose a curfew.

The judge ruled that the mayor had the authority to declare a curfew, but added, “Whether that authority was executed wisely or timely might be a matter for another day.”

The judge dismissed the curfew violation charge against Schmidt, ruling it had no punishment provision. The other two charges still stand and Schmidt is set to go on trial for them later this month.

In all, 181 people were charged with curfew violations in Baltimore. According to the public defender, charges were dropped in about 100 cases.

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