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July 03, 2005|By Lisa Goldberg

Sandra A. O'Connor

Occupation: State's attorney for Baltimore County

In the news: O'Connor said she would step down when her term ends next year, ending a tenure of more than three decades as Baltimore County's top prosecutor. As state's attorney, she received support and criticism for her policy of seeking the death penalty in all eligible murder cases, except for those that fit narrowly defined criteria. She has not faced an Election Day challenge since the early 1980s, and her decision not to seek a ninth term sets up the possibility of a contested election next year.

Career highlights: O'Connor graduated from Indiana University in 1964 and earned a law degree from Indiana University School of Law in 1966. She was an assistant state's attorney in Baltimore City from 1967 to 1974. That year, she was elected by a wide margin to the first of eight terms as Baltimore County state's attorney. In the 1970s, she started the state's first victim-witness unit. She also started a unit dedicated to sexual-assault and child-abuse cases, and established a practice of seeking harsh penalties for career criminals. She says that she established her policy on pursing the death penalty to remove bias from the process.

Personal: O'Connor, 62, is a graduate of Catonsville High School. She lives with her husband in Catonsville and has two children and two grandchildren.

Philosophy: "The whole idea, all along, has been to hire the best person and make it a professional atmosphere - one where you want to work."

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