Jury (duty) is out for Howard County prosecutor

State's attorney Broccolino not picked for civil panel

May 20, 2010|By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

Called for jury duty for the third time that he can remember, Dario Broccolino doesn't know why he wasn't picked Thursday to hear a personal injury complaint stemming from an automobile accident.

Maybe because he's the top prosecutor for Howard County?

"I have no idea which side didn't want me on the jury," Broccolino said. "There's a million different reasons why you want someone on a jury or don't want them on a jury, what perceptions or preconceived ideas you have."

Broccolino walked into the courtroom of Circuit Judge Timothy McCrone — his predecessor and former boss — not as Howard County state's attorney but as a citizen called to meet a civic obligation.

"I just answered the questions like everybody else did, I was just in there with the pool; I didn't have a reserved seat or a skybox or anything like that," Broccolino said jokingly.

Broccolino, named interim state's attorney in December 2007 when McCrone was appointed to the bench, was one of 38 potential jurors called for the civil case. While he is a well-known figure around the courthouse, he said that the only member of the pool who recognized him was a former high school classmate who was selected.

Another prospective juror, on hearing Broccolino's name, asked him, "Aren't you with the hospital?"

"That happens all the time," said Broccolino, whose brother Vic is CEO of Howard County General Hospital.

It turned out that Broccolino knew Jim Gentry, one of the attorneys for the plaintiff. Gentry was a former assistant state's attorney in Baltimore County "who I knew fairly well," Broccolino said, adding that the relationship was mentioned later by McCrone and the lawyers for both sides.

"They wanted to know how I knew him, and I explained that to them," Broccolino said. "They said, 'Would that make a difference, would you be able to render a fair and impartial verdict?' I said that doesn't make any difference to me."

When the names were called for the six jurors and two alternates, Broccolino's wasn't among them.

Was he disappointed not to have been called?

"In some respects, a little bit," he said. "I would have liked to have been involved in the dynamics of how a jury comes to a decision. It would have given me some insight, which I was able to do the last time. It's quite fascinating."

The last time Broccolino was called to jury duty, more than a decade ago, it was for a criminal trial. At the time, he was working as a coordinator for the Howard County state's attorney.

"It didn't take long for them to get rid of me on that one," he said. "With my prosecutorial background, a defense attorney would say, 'He's going to believe everything the prosecutor presents.' "

Broccolino, who said he did once serve on a jury — it heard a civil case similar to the one Thursday — says he couldn't sit on a criminal case.

"I'm the one who signed the indictment charging the person with the crime," he said. "I don't think I can be accuser and jury. I knew the only chance I had sitting on a jury was with a civil case.

"I know of some cases in [Baltimore] where they actually put judges on a jury."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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