Gansler names 2 top deputies

Attorney general-elect says he isn't planning major changes in staff

November 17, 2006|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,sun reporter

Two weeks after his election victory, Maryland Attorney General-elect Douglas F. Gansler named two people to top positions in the office yesterday.

Katherine Winfree, a former federal prosecutor who has been Gansler's chief deputy since 1999, will be the senior deputy attorney general.

John B. Howard Jr., Gansler's roommate at the University of Virginia law school and a litigator at Venable LLP in Baltimore, will serve as a deputy. The law allows for two deputies, and a second has yet to be chosen.

Winfree handled federal appeals in the Justice Department for several years before moving in 1980 to the U.S. attorney's office in Washington. Among her jobs was chief of the offices of misdemeanor trials, economic crime and public corruption. This year, she was the lead prosecutor for the sniper cases, in which John Allen Muhammad was convicted of six murders in 2002. Lee Boyd Malvo pleaded guilty to the crimes.

Howard was an assistant attorney general from 1993 to 1999, and had a major role in devising Maryland's tobacco industry lawsuit. At Venable, he said, he handles securities, corporate, contract and other commercial cases.

Gansler restructured the Montgomery County state's attorney's office when elected as chief prosecutor there eight years ago, but said, "I don't feel that about the attorney general's office. I don't think that's an office in need of an overhaul."

The Jan. 2 arrival of a new Maryland attorney general for the first time in two decades has made some lawyers nervous. Gansler said he is not planning a wholesale firing of the more than 400 lawyers who work in the office. Gansler said everyone gets a "fresh start" and will be assessed on performance.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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