Barnes sworn in as attorney

January 04, 1995|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

In a homecoming of sorts, Jerry F. Barnes was sworn in yesterday as Carroll's state's attorney, officially replacing the five-term incumbent who gave him his first job in law and was his mentor and close friend.

But for most of the lawyers who worked in the office under Thomas E. Hickman -- many of whom Mr. Barnes still refers to as friends -- the transfer of power looked more like an eviction.

Since Carroll voters overwhelmingly placed Mr. Barnes in the prosecutor's office Nov. 8, seven of the 11 assistant state's attorneys have quit, been fired, or asked to resign, many of them in the past two weeks.

The personnel moves -- while at the discretion of the state's attorney -- contrast sharply with what Mr. Barnes had predicted would happen at the beginning of his term.

For months Mr. Barnes bristled at the suggestion that he would fire nearly everyone who worked for Mr. Hickman.

"Most of the employees in his office are in shock," Mr. Barnes said after defeating Mr. Hickman in the Republican primary, "and the No. 1 reason for that is that they've been brainwashed into thinking they're all going to be fired. That's simply not true. Many of these people have been my friends."

Friends or not, all the senior trial attorneys in Mr. Hickman's office are no longer prosecutors in Carroll County, replaced with lawyers from Frederick, Howard, Washington and Baltimore counties.

"We attempted to make the transition as smooth as possible, but it was hard," Mr. Hickman said yesterday. "What with people who were told they had a job and then fired, it was tough going."

Some of Mr. Hickman's most loyal employees -- Deputy State's Attorney Edward M. Ulsch and Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill -- quit outright, informing Mr. Barnes that they would not work for him. Others, such as assistants Eileen McInerney and Christy McFaul, were assured jobs and then asked to resign.

Assistant Barton F. Walker III, head of the often-criticized Narcotics Task Force, was fired, and, in a last-minute decision this weekend, Assistant State's Attorney Gail Kessler resigned after accepting a post in another county. Lonnie Marchibroda, who like Ms. Kessler practiced mostly in District Court, also resigned.

Marcie S. Wogan, one of two deputy state's attorneys in Mr. Barnes' office, said yesterday that all of Mr. Hickman's assistants "except for Bart Walker" were encouraged to stay on.

"In some cases, negotiations just didn't work out," she said. "There was an effort, but some of them went on to what they perceived were better opportunities for themselves."

Mr. Ulsch has joined Mr. Hickman in an Eldersburg-based practice that will focus on personal injury cases, Mr. Hickman said. They will probably also do some criminal defense work, Mr. Hickman said.

Ms. Hill, who was in Mr. Hickman's office for 12 years, is becoming a supervising Circuit Court prosecutor in Howard County. Ms. McInerney and Ms. Kessler also are beginning jobs as Howard County prosecutors. Ms. McFaul will be the supervisor of District Court prosecutors in Frederick County. It was not clear yesterday what Ms. Marchibroda's and Mr. Walker's work plans are.

In a packed courtroom yesterday morning, Mr. Barnes and his new team were sworn in. "I will in my office diligently and aggressively prosecute the laws of the state of Maryland to make Carroll County an unattractive place for criminals," Mr. Barnes said.

Joining him are:

* Deputy State's Attorney Martha Ann Sitterding, who was an assistant public defender who successfully argued for the reversal of a first-degree murder conviction of a man who confessed to strangling a woman on a Harney farm. She will oversee litigation matters.

* Ms. Wogan, a Baltimore County lawyer, who will be the deputy in charge of administrative matters in the office. She was a child abuse prosecutor under Mr. Hickman in the 1980s.

* Tracy A. Gilmore, a Howard County prosecutor for four years, will take Ms. Hill's place as head of the Child Abuse and Sexual Assault unit. Ms. Gilmore is the daughter of retired Carroll Circuit Judge Donald J. Gilmore.

* Theresa M. Adams, an assistant state's attorney in Frederick for more than five years, will become a Circuit Court prosecutor who will oversee much of the office's civil asset forfeiture work.

* Erin M. Danz, who was Mr. Hickman's chief juvenile prosecutor, will become supervisor of District Court prosecutors.

*Clarence W. "Buddy" Beall III, who was District Court supervisor under Mr. Hickman, will become a Circuit Court trial attorney.

* James F. Brewer will continue to be the office's chief child support enforcement prosecutor, a job he has held for many zTC years under Mr. Hickman.

* Robert N. Smith III, who was Mr. Brewer's assistant, will become a District Court litigator. Before becoming an attorney in 1992, he was a Howard County police officer.

* Jerome J. Joyce was for five years a prosecutor in Washington County. He will focus on the prosecution of white-collar crimes and welfare fraud.

* David P. Daggett, a Frederick County prosecutor for more than four years, will handle vehicular homicide, manslaughter and domestic violence cases.

* Shawn Larson, a Howard County prosecutor for four years, will prosecute property crimes in District Court.

"I think we have assembled a team that has the skills to do the job," Ms. Wogan said.

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