FALL­OUT

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE -

on the win­dow but you don’t close them?” Ger­sh­man ques­tioned. “Even with the Fourth Amend­ment, we have to take pre­cau­tions for our pri­vacy some­times. I think he’s go­ing to be hard-pressed to say he was spied upon if he could have taken the pre­cau­tion of clos­ing the blinds and did not.”

Mean­while, John Burkoff, a 41year Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh law pro­fes­sor who also spe­cial­izes in pros­e­cu­to­rial ethics, said that the op­er­a­tion of the Ce­cil County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice will likely be strained by the fall­out of the charges.

“It makes it far more dif­fi­cult for the of­fice to op­er­ate, be­cause any de­fen­dant’s lawyer will surely stand up and say, ‘Hey the state’s

at­tor­ney’s con­duct may be worse than my client,’” he said.

Burkoff con­firmed that a de­fen­dant would have no use­ful le­gal ar­gu­ment for such a stance, but he or she may have an emo­tional one.

“Juries are made up of peo­ple who con­sider a lot of things, in­clud­ing the emo­tions of a case,” he noted. “But he has no le­gal obli­ga­tion to re­cuse or ex­cuse him­self from any as­pect of his job while this is be­ing ad­ju­di­cated. And while it’s clearly em­bar­rass­ing to him and the of­fice, he’s still in­no­cent un­til proven guilty.”

Ger­sh­man, who pre­vi­ously served as a New York City pros­e­cu­tor, agreed that there is no le­gal re­quire­ment from Rollins, the county’s elected top pros­e­cu­tor, to take a leave of ab­sence, but added that “it might be the most pru­dent thing to do if he can­not es­cape (the charges’) im­pact.” Ger­sh­man added that he sus­pected that the

of­fice’s 10 as­sis­tant state’s at­tor­neys and deputy state’s at­tor­ney would shoul­der a slightly heav­ier load in or­der to in­su­late any ar­gu­ments against their boss.

“You see in­ci­dents where this hap­pens with pub­lic of­fi­cials, but it doesn’t stop them from serv­ing in their role,” he said. “For in­stance, (Bill) Clin­ton didn’t stop be­ing a pres­i­dent when he was im­peached.”

In ad­di­tion to the Worces­ter County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, Rollins may see some in­quiry from the Mary­land At­tor­ney Griev­ance Com­mis­sion, which in­ves­ti­gates the con­duct of lawyers in the state for po­ten­tial sanc­tions.

If Rollins were to be found guilty of one of the charged crimes, he could be sub­ject to re­moval from of­fice un­der Mary­land’s State Con­sti­tu­tion, which lists in­com­pe­tency, will­ful ne-

glect of duty, mis­de­meanor in of­fice or con­vic­tion in a court of law as rea­sons for dis­missal. The four Ce­cil County Cir­cuit Court judges would ap­point a re­place­ment for Rollins’ re­main­ing two years or so in his elected term in such a sce­nario. An heir ap­par­ent is dif­fi­cult to es­tab­lish as the deputy state’s at­tor­ney, Steve Tros­tle, is not a Ce­cil County res­i­dent as would be re­quired by state law.

If ac­quit­ted of the charges, how­ever, Rollins may still face the court of pub­lic opin­ion, al­though Ger­sh­man added that the per­cep­tion may not be as bad as the charges.

“I would hope that a per­son could con­tinue to serve the pub­lic if the ac­cu­sa­tions are proven un­mer­ited,” he said. “If the pub­lic con­tin­ues to hold un­sub­stan­ti­ated charges against some­one, then what is our pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence worth? For­tu­nately or

un­for­tu­nately, peo­ple are go­ing to see what they want to see.”

Burkoff noted that the true fall­out of the case may not be the po­ten­tial crim­i­nal penal­ties at all.

“There’s two kinds of im­pact: that of the per­sonal em­bar­rass­ment for him and his fam­ily and that of his po­lit­i­cal fu­ture,” he said.

Both le­gal ex­perts agreed that the charges would se­verely ham­per Rollins’ chances of be­ing ap­pointed to the va­cant Ce­cil County Cir­cuit Court judge­ship for which he just reached the “short list” less than a month ago.

“It’s a cloud over his can­di­dacy for the cir­cuit court, that’s pretty clear,” Ger­sh­man said. “His chances have been con­sid­er­ably less­ened.”

“This won’t help, be­cause it sim­ply won’t be re­solved by then,” Burkoff added. “The tim­ing just couldn’t have been worse.”

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