Lawyer eyes bid for state's attorney's post in Arundel

March 21, 2006|By ANDREA F. SIEGEL | ANDREA F. SIEGEL,SUN REPORTER

The lawyer who won an acquittal in a high-profile criminal trial in Anne Arundel County will announce today that he has formed an exploratory committee for a state's attorney's bid and is leaning toward trying to take the job away from the county's longtime chief prosecutor.

Republican David W. Fischer, 36, would mount what political observers say is a serious challenge to Democrat Frank R. Weathersbee's 18-year lock on the office. Fischer's potential bid comes in a year when his party suspects the incumbent is vulnerable and as the number of GOP-registered voters has climbed in a conservative county that voted heavily for Republicans four years ago.

Fischer, the managing partner of a small private law practice in Glen Burnie, confirmed yesterday that he will tell the Severna Park Republican Women's Club today that he might seek the office.

Last year he successfully defended Jacob Fortney, a white youth, against a manslaughter charge in the only one of six cases to be tried in the 2004 death of black teenager Noah Jamahl Jones in a Pasadena melee. Charges against one defendant had been dropped in exchange for testimony against Fortney, but after his acquittal, prosecutors dropped the remaining four cases. Blacks and whites criticized Weathersbee's handling of the case.

"The office is run like it's still 1985," Fischer said yesterday. But the population and prosecution techniques have grown more sophisticated, he said.

Fischer said that in many other jurisdictions, a specialized prosecution team works so closely on homicides with police that an experienced prosecutor is on murder scenes to consult with police and is present for suspect questioning. That might have prevented the problem that eventually cost Weathersbee the murder case against Leeander Jerome Blake, accused in the fatal 2002 carjacking of Straughan Lee Griffin a few steps from the State House in Annapolis, he said.

A Republican candidate is likely to woo black voters this year, in part by noting that Weathersbee's office has no black prosecutors but that neighboring jurisdictions do.

Fischer ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2002.

"We are ahead of most offices in almost every way," Weathersbee said. "We have one of the biggest victim-witness groups of any office, and we work very closely with the police, particularly on homicides. We certainly would go out at 2 a.m. if the police called us."

His office looks for minority lawyers, but its last one, Danielle Mosley, was appointed last December to a District Court judgeship, Weathersbee said.

A career prosecutor, Weathersbee is seeking a fifth term. Four years ago, he received just 52 percent of the vote against a Republican who barely campaigned.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.