Stancil announces bid against Jessamy

City Council member is a former prosecutor

May 08, 2002|By Sarah Koenig | Sarah Koenig,SUN STAFF

At a midday party that included balloons, several musical bands and the guest of honor dancing a little jig with a costumed performer, Lisa J. Stancil announced her candidacy for Baltimore state's attorney yesterday.

But during the festivities, Stancil, 39, who worked as a city prosecutor for two years and has been a City Council member since 1999, attacked incumbent Patricia C. Jessamy's leadership as a "gross failure," and promised "a new day" in city courtrooms.

"This office will seek justice in this new day," she said in an interview after the event, which was held in the courtyard of Zion Lutheran Church near City Hall.

"We will not have the same kind of incompetence and sloppiness that has allowed for burglars, robbers, rapists, even some bad policemen, even some murderers, to be released," she said.

Stancil noted the case of Michael Austin, who spent 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit before being released last year. Jessamy opposed Austin's motions for a new trial.

"Instead of seeking justice, she caused him to spend an additional 300 days in jail," she said.

Stancil also underlined Jessamy's public spats with Mayor Martin O'Malley and other city officials. "We'll no longer accept excuses and blame on any other entities," she said.

Although Stancil blamed high crime numbers for the city's educational and financial problems, she did not unveil any specific plans for improving the quality of prosecution.

But she said that if elected, she would conduct an audit of the office in an effort to root out inefficiencies.

Jessamy responded briefly yesterday to Stancil's criticism. "The citizens of Baltimore will not be misled by this rhetoric now or on September 10," she said in a statement, referring to the primary election date. "They know my record and my commitment to making our communities safe."

Of those who are running or say they might, Stancil is the only person - including Jessamy - who has won an election.

In addition, she is African-American, which is likely to give her an edge among the city's majority-black voters over a third Democratic state's attorney candidate, Anton J.S. Keating.

All three are Democrats. They could be joined in the primary by Warren A. Brown, one of Baltimore's best-known defense lawyers, who said he might re-enter the contest. In September, a spate of negative news reports about his private and professional life caused him to bow out.

In addition, Republican Andrew C. White said last month that he is seriously considering running.

Stancil was accompanied yesterday by three incumbent candidates: Baltimore Sheriff John Anderson, Register of Wills Mary M. Conaway and her husband, Circuit Court Clerk Frank M. Conaway.

Together, they call themselves "The Court House Team" - a title appearing on water bottles and key chains at yesterday's event.

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