Linda Holmes for State's Attorney

October 24, 1994

Even though five-term incumbent Thomas E. Hickman fancies the state's attorney race in Carroll County as a three-person contest, it really involves two people. Voters can write in the name of Mr. Hickman, who lost in the Republican primary, but the general election winner will be either Republican Jerry F. Barnes or Democrat Linda Holmes.

After 20 years of Mr. Hickman's stewardship, the county state's attorney's office needs to reassess its duties. If the office is to swiftly and efficiently prosecute criminals, it must shed current duties such as scheduling criminal cases and directing the county narcotics task force.

Placing criminal cases on the docket should not be the prosecutor's responsibility. Under the current system, prosecutors can pick the judges to preside over their cases. In Maryland's other counties, the judges or clerk of the court handle scheduling. It is time for Carroll to adopt that practice.

The state's attorney should advise the county's drug task force and prosecute drug cases, but the office should not be so deeply enmeshed in police investigative work as it currently is. Letting the police do their work will result in more effective drug enforcement.

Mr. Barnes has built a substantial record as a prosecutor in Carroll and Frederick counties. Under his supervision, the Frederick drug task force has avoided many of the controversies that have plagued Carroll's. Nevertheless, Mr. Barnes' preoccupation with drug prosecutions troubles us. His promise to personally handle drug cases may result in a replay of the counterproductive political and turf battles over the task force.

That brings us to Mrs. Holmes. She has extensive experience with complex civil litigation. As a federal attorney, she handled cases involving the mispricing of petroleum products by the nation's largest oil companies. She has grappled with complex legal issues as a litigator for companies involved in product liability suits.

Mrs. Holmes is an able lawyer who possesses the administrative skills to manage the attorneys, investigators and staff who handle much of the day-to-day prosecutions.

For these reasons, we endorse Linda Holmes for state's attorney.

Tomorrow: House of Delegates' District 4B.

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