Work begins for new Baltimore state's attorney

Communications director hired

January 04, 2011|By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

Roughly 30 hours after his official swearing-in, Baltimore's new state's attorney had a ceremonial do-over Tuesday afternoon before a vast crowd of friends, family, politicians, law enforcement officials and colleagues.

"I am deeply honored," Gregg L. Bernstein said, surveying the group, which included state legislators, the mayor and City Council president, Maryland's U.S. attorney and more than a dozen judges.

The spectators spilled from the formal courtroom into the hall — a turnout that "speaks profoundly to the notion that this is an important day for Baltimore," Bernstein said.

Voters narrowly elected Bernstein over incumbent Patricia C. Jessamy, who held the city's top prosecutor position for 15 years. During the campaign, he promised tough prosecution of violent criminals and a strategic approach that would make the most out of the office's limited resources.

He has announced a leadership team and has begun an internal audit to assess the state of the office, which he told reporters has had a "small lack of leadership and direction."

Mark Cheshire, a former reporter and one-time speechwriter for Mayor Sheila Dixon, said he will become the office's communications director Jan 17. His salary is still under negotiation, he said.

Cheshire, 41, said he is a Baltimore native with 15 years of journalism experience, working at the Afro American Newspaper and as an editor and reporter at The Daily Record. He said he also worked as a speechwriter for Dixon for a year and currently teaches high school English in Baltimore.

Jessamy's former communications director, Margaret T. Burns, became a campaign issue last year, with Bernstein supporters accusing her of causing a rift between the prosecutors' office and police by placing blame for failed cases on officers.

Bernstein put a panel together to interview and help select prospects, including Elizabeth Embry, who's now in charge of policy and planning for Bernstein; Baltimore defense attorney Warren Brown; Baltimore Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi and Bernstein's wife, Sheryl Goldstein, who is crime director for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Goldstein recused herself when Cheshire was interviewed, but Guglielmi, who has 11 years of public relations experience, was present.

"We're going to be working closely together," Guglielmi said.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

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