Wednesday, January 30, 2013

An Office Too Small (Wednesday LINKS)

Ann Marimow at The Washington Post put out a fantastic profile of Maryland's State Prosecutors office this past weekend.  One thing not many people realize is that this office is unique to Maryland.  As Ms. Marimow describes, the office "takes on cases that are too politically sensitive for Maryland’s elected state’s attorneys or attorney general — and too small for federal prosecutors."

As recently as five years ago, this is what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I even had e-mail correspondence with Robert Rohrbaugh, who served in this position before retiring in 2010.  He couldn't make it work and I wasn't willing to be an intern again after buying a house.  The sad fact is this - the office that has handled two of the the most high profile cases for violations of the public trust in recent Maryland history...has only three attorneys.  By way of a lawyer's understanding, this means the Office can just barely walk and chew gum at the same time.  With one case in the hopper, all others are paused.

The salary isn't great.  The wins are rare.  The scorn, at times, seems pervasive.  Does anyone think it was easy to prosecute Sheila Dixon in the City that elected her by huge margins?  How about turning Anne Arundel County employees who had lived in fear of losing their jobs (and in most cases careers) for six years?

But in a way, that little office, stacked up against the most powerful people in the State, is just about as exciting as it gets for an attorney.

State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt earned your appreciation yesterday.  He "won one for the good guys."  Anne Arundel County Execution John Leopold was found guilty of two counts of misconduct in office.  From Matthew Hay Brown's article in the Baltimore Sun:

Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney said the two-term Republican broke the law when he directed his taxpayer-funded police protection detail to put up campaign signs, collect contributions and compile dossiers on adversaries during his 2010 re-election campaign, and when he required county workers to empty the urinary catheter bag he used after back surgery.

These charges do not carry with them a particular sanction and it will be up to the Anne Arundel County Council to determine whether he will be removed from office (he is suspended pending that decision).

Re-read that italicized paragraph.  Imagine your friends, your brother, your sister, being used like servants.  Compiling a file on Citizen X while wondering if your personal details may be in a file drawer above it.  Taking a urinary catheter bag to the toilet. 

We know how this story ends.  Leopold's removal from office is seen as punishment in itself and he is released with a substantial fine, possibly 30 days in jail.  It just doesn't seem like enough to me.  We have people serving 20 years for drug addiction in this State, which should be infuriating in contrast.

Meanwhile, these three lawyers will go back to their office tomorrow, after weeks in trial, to figure out which one case will be next.


The Flier likes it!  They really like it!  "Art District a Fine Concept for Symphony Woods"

David Nitkin, Director of Communications for the Howard County Government, offers his perspective on being a Pat's fan in Ravens territory.  I completely disagree with his characterization of "keeping his head down and his mouth shut".

Ken Ulman has announced that his FY14 Budget will include $3 million in improvements to downtown Ellicott City.  This is a continuation of his behind-the-scenes efforts to refurbish this County jewel and bring it back to the prominence it once had.  What we could really use is some State money to evaluate Ellicott City flooding and see if there is room for mitigating infrastructure...for the City on a river.

Yesterday was not a good day for the sports media.  While I fully acknowledge bias in this regard, Sports Illustrated appears to have over-zealously pursued a story about Ray Lewis using deer antler extract as a performance enhancing drug without ever checking the science.  In fact, before any other outlets checked the science, they were also talking about whether Ray would be suspended for the Super Bowl and how his pending retirement would make any appeals effective to wipe out the punishment.  Here's a tip - When someone says "deer antler spray makes him stronger", you may want to call someone with an M.D. or Ph.D. to back that up.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: Please come out for tomorrow night's information session about the Inner Arbor Plan.  If you support this Plan, we need you there.

The petition to support the Inner Arbor plan is up to 133 signatures.  Ian has set a new goal of 500 by February 14.

That's all for today.  Have a great Wednesday doing what you love!