Mayor Supports Snowden Despite Marijuana Conviction
The Annapolis mayor says he wants Carl Snowden to continue as chairman of the housing authority.
Mayor Josh Cohen supports keeping Carl Snowden as chairman of the Housing Authority for the City of Annapolis despite Snowden's conviction for marijuana possession.
"I support the direction HACA has been going in," Cohen said. "I want to see that continue, and I think Carl has been doing an outstanding job."
The seven-member board, which oversees Annapolis' public housing, is appointed by the mayor to five-year terms. Snowden's term is set to expire in 2014. While the board chooses its own chair, City Council can remove members from the board.
Cohen said he has no plans to take that step.
A Baltimore City Circuit Court jury unanimously convicted Snowden of misdemeanor possession on Tuesday. He was arrested in April with co-defendant Anthony Hill after Baltimore City police officers discovered a cigar containing marijuana in the center cup holder of Snowden's 2010 Honda Pilot.
Hill pleaded guilty to possession in June, but Snowden maintained his innocence. He said the jury's guilty verdict surprised him.
"I believe we had an overzealous prosecutor who was attempting to get headlines rather than justice," Snowden said.
Snowden is also the civil rights director of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. He is on a leave of absence from the Attorney General's Office, and a conviction on his record could be grounds for termination.
Assistant State’s Attorney Deniece Robinson asked for a 90-day suspended sentence, drug rehabilitation and a year of supervised probation, citing Snowden's two prior DUI convictions. He was convicted in 2010 and 2003.
Judge Michael Reed shortened the suspended sentence to 60 days.
"At a minimum this whole episode is a disappointment because whether he was innocent or not, he clearly exercised poor judgement," Cohen said. "But in terms of his service to the city, he's doing a tremendous job."
Cohen credited Snowden with being instrumental in creating the perception that Annapolis' public housing is transitional rather than generational housing.
The mayor reiterated this point when asked about whether Snowden's conviction would set a bad example for Annapolis' public housing residents—who are subject to eviction when convicted of drug-related offenses.
Snowden asked the judge for a probation before judgement, which would keep the conviction off his record and allow him to continue his life in public service.
Snowden received probation before judgements in both of his DUI cases. According to the Capital Gazette, the judge in the 2010 case reversed her decision after learning of a state law that prohibits a person from receiving two in 10 years.
Snowden is appealing that reversal before Maryland's Court of Special Appeals.
Reed said he would consider granting what would be Snowden's third probation before judgement after he successfully completes his drug treatment program and year of probation.