Judge Grants Mistrial After Defense Attorney Refuses to Continue Due to Fear of COVID Exposure

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Lawrence R. Daniels declared a mistrial for a murder case May 11 after a defense attorney refused to litigate case, leaving the defendant unrepresented in court.

Lamont Mealy, 51, is charged with first-degree murder, use of a firearm during a violent crime, possession of a firearm with a felony conviction, and giving a false statement to an officer due to an incident that occurred on Aug. 5, 2020.

On Wednesday, a juror alerted the court about his positive test for COVID-19. The defense, prosecutor, and the court all agreed that the jury should be informed and asked individually if potential exposure to the virus would cloud their judgment in the trial. Two jurors asked to be excused but there were enough alternates to take their place. 

Judge Daniels ruled that the trial would continue as they still had a full jury.

Because of the COVID exposure risk, Mealy’s attorney, Sharon May, asked to be removed from representing Mealy in this case as she is a high-risk individual and was not comfortable continuing.

After being asked his opinion by the court, Mealy said he preferred that May continue to be his attorney rather than having to represent himself or having to request a mistrial. 

Judge Daniels ordered that because she did not have any symptoms, May was to remain as Mealy’s attorney.

May was incredibly frustrated and argued with Judge Daniels about his decision. She expressed reservations about potentially risking her life for one trial as well as how her reputation would be affected if she chose to leave. 

May ultimately decided to leave the courtroom and no longer represented Mealy during the trial. She did this knowing she may be held in contempt of court and would very likely be reported for her actions. 

Mealy was then tasked with choosing to either represent himself or to request a mistrial and seek new representation for a trial at a later date. 

After much deliberation, Mealy requested a mistrial, which was quickly granted by Judge Daniels. 

Mealy will attend reception court to have a new trial date scheduled for later this year. Baltimore Witness could not confirm if Mealy was scheduled for a reception court date due to a system outage of Maryland’s Judiciary Case Search site Wednesday afternoon.