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Special prosecutor asks for removal from Maze case
By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer

The special prosecutor in the Beth Maze criminal case has asked to be removed from the prosecution.

Special Prosecutor Melvin C. Leonhart has filed a request with the state Attorney General’s Office to be removed from the case, an AG spokesperson has confirmed.

The AG’s Office will have to make a new appointment.
The Advocate has requested documents related to the case from the AG under the Open Records Act, but that request had not been fulfilled as of press time.

The defense team for Maze, the suspended circuit judge for the 21st Judicial Circuit, had requested that Leonhart be removed for his office’s release of tapes of grand jury testimony to the Judicial Conduct Commission, which has charged Maze with ethics violations.
The request was made by Maze attorney Thomas Clay at a court hearing in Bath County Circuit Court Feb. 27. Maze also serves Montgomery, Rowan and Menifee counties.

Maze is charged in Bath County with two counts of second-degree forgery and tampering with public records.

She is also charged by the JCC with six counts of judicial misconduct.
Her defense team alleges that Maridelle Malone, an assistant to the special prosecutor, illegally released the grand jury tapes to JCC attorney Jeffrey Mando.

Mando testified during the Feb. 27 court hearing that he submitted a subpoena to Malone for the tapes. He testified that he wanted the tapes as part of his investigation.

Mando testified that he believed he had the authority to subpoena the tapes based on a previous attorney general opinion and a Supreme Court ruling.

Mando testified that the special prosecutor’s office could have quashed release of the tapes if found to be improper.

Maze attorney Tom Jones asked Mando if he had sought approval from any other court official in filing the subpoena and Mando responded that he hadn’t.

Leonhart’s removal delays the criminal case until a new special prosecutor can be assigned and further court hearings scheduled.
Prosecutors allege that Maze forged the signatures of two individuals on court orders related to her ex-husband, Donald “Champ” Maze, who had been arrested on drug-related charges. He is currently serving a year in jail on those charges.

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