AG division to shift to the D.C. suburbs

December 30, 2006|By Sun Reporter

Incoming Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said he is developing plans to move a division of the 420-attorney office out of its Baltimore headquarters and to the populous Washington suburbs.

"The almost 1.8 million people who live in Prince George's and Montgomery County alone have no access to the attorney general," Gansler said. The Montgomery County state's attorney will be sworn in Tuesday to succeed J. Joseph Curran Jr., who did not seek re-election this year.

Gansler said he and his transition team have identified the 17-person criminal appeals division as the most likely candidate for a move, which he said he hopes to complete within the next year. The new office would also allow area residents to file consumer protection complaints in person, he said.

Some of the thousands of private-practice lawyers who live in the Washington area might be interested in working for the attorney general's office if they did not have to commute to downtown Baltimore, Gansler said. Most of the agency's 420 lawyers work at the William Donald Schaefer Tower on St. Paul Place.

At least one Baltimore politician is cool to the plan, however.

"I think it makes no sense," state Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, a Democrat, told the Gazette newspapers in Montgomery County this week. "It doesn't help the office, and it doesn't ensure that a smooth transition occurs."

The election of Gansler, a Bethesda resident, along with that of Takoma Park's Peter Franchot as comptroller, marked a continuing shift in political power toward the Washington region and its growing population.

But Gansler insisted that the plan "in no way, shape or form dilutes the presence of the office in Baltimore. ... This is not a seismic shift or a major shift," he said, adding that he intends to work mainly out of the state's largest city.

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