Marion Barry, Ward 8 Councilmember, during an interview with LL

Mike DeBonis reports during a recess:

Marion Barry, wearing a pink paisley tie, arrived 20 minutes early to a hearing to determine whether his probation should be revoked for his failure to file a 2007 tax return on time.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson convened the hearing 20 minutes late, setting up a virtually unprecedented situation: Marion Barry waiting on someone rather than the other way around.

After a discussion of preliminary matters, Robinson heard arguments from Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Zeno and from Barry’s Attorney, Frederick Cooke.

Veno argued that Marion Barry needs to be put in jail. “Marion Barry is a man of substance and talent,” he said. “And he should not use those gifts to avoid paying taxes.”

“We believe that the fact of the incarceration is the important fact, not the length.”

After that Cooke made his arguments. To have Robinson revoke Barry’s probation, prosecutors have to prove that he willfully disregarded its terms. Cooke argues that since the government has been “overly aggressive” in its pursuit of this matter, Barry couldn’t have possibly willfully disregarded the terms of his parole.

“There was no way this defendant was not going to pay his taxes and get away with it. There was no upside to that.”

Barry was distracted by health problems, Cooke argues. Failing to file the 2007 return was an oversight. Cooke has asked that if any sanction needs to be given that Barry’s probation be extended for a year.

Barry’s probation officer, DeBonis says, seems wary of jailing him for this violation.

Court’s back in session; we’ll update at the next recess.

File photograph by Darrow Montgomery

CORRECTION: Due to a transcription error by Andrew Beaujon, Thomas Zeno’s name was misspelled.