Another prosecutor has resigned from the Howard County state's attorney's office, the sixth to leave since February under State's Attorney Marna McLendon's administration.
Turnover in the office -- more than a quarter of its 22 prosecutors have left in the past year -- has been much higher than in counterpart offices in Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Harford counties in the same period.
McLendon said she was not concerned. Some prosecutors come to the office to gain trial experience, and others become career prosecutors, she said, and the departures create opportunities for others.
"I am not alarmed," McLendon said. "I love the fact it will allow us to bring up prosecutors from District Court."
Last year's six resignations follow the departure of nine prosecutors from the office in 1995. Six of those nine were asked to resign by McLendon in December of 1994, shortly after she was elected on a campaign promise to change the office's operations.
The most recent resignation, that of Assistant State's Attorney Janine L. Rice, who resigned Dec. 23, effective after a trial scheduled for this month, came amid grumbling from some prosecutors who have worked in the office.
The privately expressed complaints focus on Republican McLendon's administration and management style, alleging that she is more of a politician than a prosecutor. They say the office atmosphere has become more impersonal since McLendon replaced Democrat William R. Hymes, who was state's attorney for 16 years before retiring.
McLendon said she has not heard of any dissatisfaction in her office. "I am anything other than a politician," she said.
Since taking office, McLendon has instituted new community programs aimed at limiting crime and formal office policies on such matters as when and how to seek the death penalty. She also frequently appears at public gatherings to talk about crime.
"The more visible we are as an office, does that help me? Yes," McLendon said. But it also helps the community, she said.
Rice said, "In any office, there is going to be an undercurrent of grumbling."
Rice's resignation will take effect at the end of the rape case against Timothy Bryan Chase, for which Rice is the lead prosecutor. The trial is scheduled Jan. 27 in Carroll County.
Rice, 29, who has been a prosecutor for about four years, is joining the Columbia firm Tuma and Davis, where she will be a general practitioner. She hopes to deal with family law and litigation.
"My personality and style are not suited to a government bureaucracy at this point," Rice said in an interview. "It's a chance for me to build something of my own."
Rice said that at one point she was excited about spending much of her career as a prosecutor, particularly after winning a scholarship to attend a course for career prosecutors in Houston last summer.
"The enthusiasm I felt sputtered when I came back," she said. "I can't point out the reasons why."
In February, prosecutors Kathi L. Hill and Timothy S. Mitchell resigned and went into private practice. Two months later, prosecutor Shirley Ripley took early retirement.
In May, prosecutor Mary C. Reese left the office to go into private practice. And in July, Gail D. Kessler, a prosecutor in the District Court division, left to take a job with the state Attorney Grievance Commission.
In Baltimore County, two of 41 assistant's state's attorneys left in 1996, about 5 percent of the staff. In Anne Arundel County, two of 30 prosecutors, about 7 percent, left last year. None of Harford County's 17 prosecutors left.
The number of resignations from the Carroll County state's attorney's office could not be obtained.
Pub Date: 1/03/97