A Baltimore County judge on Monday rejected an effort by prosecutors to prevent a public defender from continuing to represent a man who’s accused of shooting two police officers, a move the defense attorney decried as personal and an attempt from the state to flex its muscles.
Circuit Judge Dennis M. Robinson Jr. found that Deborah Katz Levi, director of special litigation for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, did not have a conflict of interest in continuing to represent David Linthicum. He’s charged with five counts of attempted first-degree murder and related offenses.
Linthicum, 24, of Cockeysville, is accused of shooting Officer Barry Jordan on Feb. 8 and Detective Jonathan Chih on Feb. 9. The Harford County Sheriff’s Office arrested Linthicum on Feb. 10.
Deputy State’s Attorney John Cox filed the motion to discharge and strike the appearance of counsel.
Levi, he said, is married to Andrew Alperstein, an attorney in Baltimore. His brother and law partner, Warren Alperstein, is representing Chih in a workers compensation case.
Cox claimed that Levi stood to financially benefit from a successful pursuit of the workers compensation claim and raised concerns that might cause issues if there’s a conviction on appeal or during a post-conviction hearing.
“It is a circumstance where a financial interest unquestionably exists,” Cox said. “This is an issue that’s unnecessary.”
But Levi said she has not discussed the case with her brother-in-law. Prosecutors, she said, had the burden of proof but did not put forward any evidence to back up their assertions.
Next, Levi called Lydia Lawless, who served as Maryland bar counsel from 2017-2023, to testify as an expert witness.
Bar counsel is the chief administrator of the disciplinary system for attorneys in Maryland. Lawless testified that Levi did not have a conflict of interest and, even if she did, Linthicum could waive it.
Levi asserted that the state manufactured a purported conflict of interest to kick her off the case. She derided the motion as “entirely baseless” and “frivolous” and asked the judge to award expert fees.
“I am my own individual with my own bar card and my own bank account,” Levi said. “This is showmanship. This is bullying. This is interfering with the right to counsel,” she later added.
Levi is representing Linthicum with James Dills, district public defender for Baltimore County. They’ve argued that their client was experiencing a mental health crisis and tried to get police to kill him.
Later, Robinson directed both sides to consult with each other about discovery and file status reports on or before Aug. 15. He said he might later schedule a hearing about any outstanding issues.
Linthicum is being held without bail in the Baltimore County Detention Center.