Maryland's new U.S. attorney said at his swearing-in ceremony yesterday that he does not intend to seek the post permanently, keeping open the contest to become the state's next top federal prosecutor.
Allen F. Loucks was ushered in yesterday morning to replace Thomas M. DiBiagio, who announced his resignation last month. Loucks, who has worked in the office for 10 years, said it was common to have a placeholder fill the job while awaiting a permanent U.S. attorney appointed by the president.
"The job is to keep the trains running on time," he said. Later Loucks joked with reporters that "gravity will suspend" before he takes on the job permanently.
Loucks, 47, interviewed for the temporary post late last month and received the job offer Thursday from officials at the attorney general's office in Washington. His temporary appointment will last 120 days or until President Bush makes a permanent selection.
"I'm awestruck," he told colleagues who packed Courtroom 7A for the swearing-in ceremony at the federal courthouse on Lombard Street in downtown Baltimore. "And awestruck is too weak a word for it."
His daughter, wife and her parents watched as Loucks took the oath of office from Judge Benson E. Legg, chief of the Maryland U.S. District Court.
Loucks, who has headed the office's civil division since 2001, said he will rely on others to assist him with managing criminal prosecutions because he has not previously prosecuted a criminal case.
In recent months, DiBiagio's leadership brought him criticism from Washington, but as the state's top federal prosecutor, he also won major cases his office prosecuted. Loucks said yesterday he believes the office is "very strong" and was not divided over DiBiagio's tenure.
At least four lawyers have been mentioned as candidates for the permanent position, including:
Rod J. Rosenstein, a former prosecutor in the Maryland U.S. attorney's office who is now the Justice Department's principal deputy assistant attorney general for criminal tax matters.
Geoffrey Garinther, another alumnus of the Maryland U.S. attorney's office and a partner at Venable LLP.
Frederick County State's Attorney Scott Rolle, a prominent local Republican prosecutor.
Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly, who is the choice of Maryland's two Republican congressmen.