Ms. Battaglia said her biggest setback as a federal prosecutor was her failure to gain a conviction in 1980 of an Iranian man arrested at Baltimore-Washington International Airport with three high-powered rifles. He was charged with exporting weapons from the United States.
Seyed A. Mosavi was acquitted after his lawyer successfully argued that his client had bought the rifles for hunting.
The Iranian complained after the trial that he was arrested only because his purchase came during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran.
The prosecution was justified, Ms. Battaglia contended. "We were concerned that the guns were going to Iran and could be used to kill Americans."
Ms. Battaglia said she matured greatly during her years as an assistant U.S. attorney, a position that gave her power that a careless prosecutor could easily abuse.
She said she has learned "to make the distinction of being hard-nosed when I need to be and compassionate when it's appropriate."
She said she has been more hard-nosed when it comes to prosecuting career criminals ("We should punish them and put them in jail for a long time") and white-collar criminals ("You see premeditation where people are greedy"). She said the compassion may come in a case where an otherwise harmless person commits a nonviolent crime out of desperation.
At the attorney general's office, she recalled, the administrative prosecution of two Howard County sheriff's deputies in 1991 was one of her most important cases.
The deputies, who were twin brothers, were charged with making Nazi-like statements and gestures on the job. She convinced a trial board that their actions were unbecoming of police officers.
The deputies were fired.
"She was a very good administrator and she is a very good lawyer," said Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. "I always thought it was good to have Lynne's input as to whether we were on target with an investigation."
She was also the office's chief lobbyist in Annapolis.
Ms. Battaglia said she joined Senator Mikulski's staff because it was a good career opportunity.
Kenneth Mannella, director of Gov. William Donald Schaefer's Washington office, called Ms. Battaglia "terrific to work with" in her job with the Maryland senator. He said Ms. Battaglia "goes the extra mile trying to help you" and praised her judgment and patience. "She's extremely savvy about how the world works," he said.
Her return to criminal justice could require loosening some of the political ties she has made.
At least that's the advice of David W. Marston, who left the staff of Sen. Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania to become U.S. attorney in that state's eastern district in 1976.
"You have to have a U.S. attorney who is independent of political forces," he said. "You have to have someone who is not reachable on the phone by a congressman's staff, a senator's staff, a mayor's staff, or any of them."
Loves a mystery
Away from hectic public life, Ms. Battaglia reads mystery novels -- she mentions John Grisham as a favorite author -- and watches movies in her spare time.
Her friends are people she's met at work, in politics and on the sidelines of her son's athletic events.
She moved to Columbia 12 years ago after a divorce from her second husband. They have joint custody of their son, Scott, a gifted athlete who transforms his mother into a "soccer mom" and "baseball mom" on weekends.
"He's been the greatest thing in my life," she said.
Sitting beside his mother, Scott described her as an enthusiastic supporter. Real enthusiastic.
"She's very, very loud," he said of her screaming and shouting from the bleachers. "Sometimes too loud."
Four years ago, mother and son took a three-week trip in the West. Experiences like that, she said, have contributed to her happiness.
"I'm real satisfied with my life," she said. "Sometimes I think I work too hard, and sometimes I feel stressed out like everybody else, but I like who I am."
Ms. Battaglia said she gets help in dealing with stress from acupuncture, which she discovered after learning of an orthopedic problem that made it difficult for her to run.
The problem vanished soon after she started treatments.
Now, she is an avid runner -- a veteran of 10K races who jogs daily.
She gets acupuncture four times a year, with the arrival of each season.
"Acupuncture provides great mind, body, spirit connections," she said. "It keeps a balance in your energy flow, and it keeps me going."