State Prosecutor Announces Retirement

    Maryland State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt will leave his post this summer.

    Davitt has held the position since 2010, bringing dozens of cases against public officials, campaign workers and others in the state of Maryland for violations of the state’s election, ethics and bribery laws.

    The retirement, to be effective Aug. 1, was announced Tuesday morning in a news release from the Office of the State Prosecutor.

    “It has been a true honor and privilege to serve the people of this outstanding State during the past several years,” Davitt wrote in a retirement letter to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) dated last week. “As State Prosecutor, I have attempted to pursue corruption and public official misconduct allegations vigorously but always in a fair and non-partisan manner. I have been fortunate to have an impressive, albeit small, group of dedicated and industrious lawyers, investigators and support staff and I am quite proud of the many successful investigations and prosecutions that our Office has undertaken.”

    During Davitt’s tenure, the office pursued the successful prosecutions of former Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance and former Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold (R). Davitt prosecuted Paul E. Schurick and Julius Henson, the campaign manager and political consultant to former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich (R), for election fraud charges that stemmed from a 2010 Election Day robocall to thousands of Democrats in Prince George’s county and the city of Baltimore, encouraging them to stay home and “relax” instead of heading out to vote. In 2017, the former mayor of Marydel was convicted of stealing more than $61,000 in town funds and sentenced to nine years in prison. In 2018, the office indicted 18 people for corruption at the Jessup Correctional Facility.

    The Office of the State Prosecutor is a unique fixture of Maryland government, established by a Constitutional amendment in 1976, as the state grappled with corruption cases against former Gov. Spiro T. Agnew (R) and then-Gov. Marvin Mandel (D).

    In 2014, the office’s funding was targeted by then-Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D), a gubernatorial candidate at the time, who proposed eliminating the office as part of a statewide cost-cutting effort.

    An independent commission recommends State Prosecutor candidates to the governor, who nominates someone to serve in the position for a six-year term. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Maryland Senate.

    Under state law, the state prosecutor may be removed only for misconduct in office, persistent failure to perform the duties of the office, or conduct prejudicial to the proper administration of justice.

    Davitt came to the office after a short career as a high school guidance counselor and, after earning his law degree, stints with the Baltimore City state’s attorney’s office, attorney general’s office and the general counsel’s office at the Public Service Commission.

    His pending retirement as state prosecutor comes on the heels of the retirement of Thomas “Mike” McDonough, the office’s longtime deputy who had worked for the state prosecutor’s office since 1984. The position was filled in May by Kelly Madigan, who previously had been a prosecutor in Baltimore City.

    “There remains, of course, more work to be done prior to August, after which citizens of Maryland may rest assured that my successor will inherit an excellent and talented team,” Davitt wrote at the end of his letter to Hogan.

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    Danielle E. Gaines
    Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.