Rollins with­draws from judge­ship con­sid­er­a­tion

Hogan: Prob­a­bly wouldn’t ap­point him at this time



— Ce­cil County State’s At­tor­ney Ed­ward D. E. “El­lis” Rollins III has with­drawn his name from the list of can­di­dates seek­ing a va­cant Ce­cil County Cir­cuit Court judge­ship in the wake of his ar­rest last week in Ocean City.

Rollins told the Ce­cil Whig late Thurs­day af­ter­noon that he had con­tacted Robert


Scholz, coun­sel for the Mary­land Of­fice of the Gov­er­nor, ear­lier that day and in­formed him that he would no longer be seek­ing the open judge­ship.

It was a stun­ning turn of events for the be­lea­guered state’s at­tor­ney who was seen as the fron­trun­ner for the po­si­tion, earn­ing praise from col­leagues, just weeks ago. Rollins was one of three ap­pli­cants who made the “short list,” af­ter go­ing through a nom­i­na­tion process, and Gov. Larry Hogan was sched­uled to in­ter­view all fi­nal­ists in­di­vid­u­ally next week in Elk­ton — break­ing from the long­time prac­tice of gover­nors con­duct­ing those ju­di­cial can­di­date interviews in An­napo­lis.

“I do not want my present cir­cum­stances to be a dis­trac­tion to this crit­i­cal ju­di­cial ap­point­ment,” Rollins said, read­ing from a copy of the no­ti­fi­ca­tion he had sent to the gov­er­nor’s of­fice.

Rollins then em­pha­sized, “This is not a con­ces­sion that I am guilty, but this frees me up to fight this thing.”

Worces­ter County Cir­cuit Court records in­di­cate that a July 20 ar­raign­ment has been set for Rollins, who told the Ce­cil Whig ear­lier this week that he had hired an Ocean City-based lawyer. As of early Thurs­day af­ter­noon, a de­fense lawyer’s ap­pear­ance was not re­flected in those court records.

A mo­tions hear­ing in Rollins’ crim­i­nal case is sched­uled for Sept. 12 in Worces­ter County Cir­cuit Court, where his jury trial is set to start Oct. 11, ac­cord­ing to court records.

Rollins’ de­ci­sion to with­draw his name from con­sid­er­a­tion for the judge­ship comes two days af­ter Hogan said he would “prob­a­bly not” ap­point Rollins to the va­cant cir­cuit court judge­ship — a state­ment the gov­er­nor made dur­ing a tele­vised in­ter­view with Sal­is­bury-based WBOC-TV ear­lier this week.

Rollins was ar­rested at 4 p.m. June 22, af­ter Ocean City Po­lice De­part­ment of­fi­cers re­sponded to the beach­front Clar­ion Re­sort Foun­tainebleu Ho­tel in Ocean City be­cause they had re­ceived a re­port of a “nude male on a bal­cony,” po­lice said.

Of­fi­cers took Rollins, 60, into cus­tody on sus­pi­cion of in­de­cent ex­po­sure and dis­or­derly con­duct af­ter they “lo­cated the room in ques­tion,” po­lice added.

Rollins and his wife, Holly, had been stay­ing at the ho­tel dur­ing the Mary­land State’s At­tor­neys As­so­ci­a­tion’s con­ven­tion, which had started at the ho­tel’s con­fer­ence facility on June 20 and ended there about noon on June 22, some four hours be­fore Rollins’ ar­rest. Hogan had served as the key­note speaker on the last day of that con­fer­ence, ap­prox­i­mately seven hours be­fore Rollins’ ar­rest.

On Mon­day, some five days af­ter Worces­ter County State’s At­tor­ney Beau Oglesby had ad­vised OCPD of­fi­cers to re­lease Rollins with­out charges, pend­ing fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the WCSAO for­mally charged Rollins with two counts each of in­de­cent ex­po­sure and dis­or­derly con­duct stem­ming from two sep­a­rate in­ci­dents — one on June 21, the other on June 22.

Hogan ad­dressed the devel­op­ment in­volv­ing Rollins dur­ing his WBOC in­ter­view.

“We’ve got sched­uled interviews with all of the judges (can­di­dates) which were sent to us by the ju­di­cial nom­i­nee com­mis­sion, and he’s on that list as a state’s at­tor­ney,” the gov­er­nor said. “But ob­vi­ously this lat­est in­ci­dent, we’re go­ing to try and find more in­for­ma­tion about it. It con­cerns me a whole lot. If we found out he’s guilty of these crimes, I think it would pre­clude us from mak­ing that ap­point­ment.”

Asked if he had to make that Ce­cil County Cir­cuit Court ju­di­cial ap­point­ment now, Hogan replied that he would “prob­a­bly not” ap­point Rollins.

The gov­er­nor qual­i­fied dur­ing that TV in­ter­view, “I don’t know any­thing other than what I’ve read in the pa­per, but it sounds pretty ter­ri­ble.”

Rollins called the Ce­cil Whig on Mon­day and main­tained his in­no­cence, em­pha­siz­ing that Oglesby’s de­ci­sion to file crim­i­nal charges against him was based solely on in­for­ma­tion pro­vided to the WCSAO by Ocean City Po­lice De­part­ment of­fi­cers who han­dled the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“(Oglesby) de­cided based on one side of the story. He has not heard my side of the story. I am con­fi­dent when that hap­pens, my name will be cleared,” Rollins said dur­ing that phone in­ter­view on Mon­day.

A day ear­lier, Rollins’ wife had is­sued a state­ment to the Ce­cil Whig on be­half of her hus­band, who had de­clined to com­ment be­cause, at that time, he was the sub­ject of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which led to the crim­i­nal charges against him.

Holly Rollins did so to ad­dress “in­ac­cu­ra­cies” in me­dia ac­counts, she said. The state­ment in­di­cated that some­one at an ad­ja­cent ho­tel spied upon them through the win­dow of their guest room at the Clar­ion Re­sort Fon­tainebleau Ho­tel at 10100 Coastal High­way dur­ing a 24-hour pe­riod, from June 21 through June 22.

“While my hus­band and I were va­ca­tion­ing in Ocean City last week, a stranger watched and pho­tographed us through the win­dow of our 10th floor ho­tel room. The per­son who took these actions was in a sep­a­rate ho­tel some dis­tance from ours. Dur­ing the next 24 hours, while com­pletely within the con­fines of our room, our in­ti­mate move­ments and ac­tiv­i­ties were doc­u­mented and shared pub­licly,” Holly Rollins’ state­ment read.

The state­ment con­cluded, “At this time we are fully co­op­er­at­ing with law en­force­ment of­fi­cials.”

The crim­i­nal charges against Rollins are mis­de­meanors, with in­de­cent ex­po­sure car­ry­ing a pos­si­ble pun­ish­ment of up to three years in prison and/or a $1,000 fine and dis­or­derly con­duct car­ry­ing a pos­si­ble pun­ish­ment of up to 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

Ogelsby, who had at­tended the state’s at­tor­neys’ con­fer­ence in Oean City with Rollins and scores of other Mary­land pros­e­cu­tors, charged Rollins by way of a “crim­i­nal in­for­ma­tion,” which, like an in­dict­ment, lacks de­tails of the al­leged in­ci­dent or in­ci­dents and con­tains only ba­sic in­for­ma­tion, such as the charge or charges and where and when the al­leged of­fense or of­fenses oc­curred.

On Mon­day, in a writ­ten state­ment to an­nounce the charges filed against Rollins, Oglesby out­lined the steps lead­ing to the crim­i­nal case.

“Af­ter con­sul­ta­tion with the Ocean City Po­lice De­part­ment, two counts of in­de­cent ex­po­sure and two counts of dis­or­derly con­duct have been filed,” Oglesby said in a pre­pared state­ment, de­clin­ing fur­ther com­ment due to it be­ing an ac­tive case. “Af­ter care­fully con­sid­er­ing which course of ac­tion would be the most ap­pro­pri­ate given the need to han­dle this mat­ter with trans­parency bal­anced against the de­sire to shield the iden­tity of the vic­tims, fil­ing a crim­i­nal in­for­ma­tion achieved both goals.”

For 30 years, Rollins ran a pri­vate Elk­ton-based prac­tice that cov­ered nearly ev­ery man­ner of the law from crim­i­nal to fam­ily, es­tate to busi­ness. Then in 2010, he was elected to his first four-year term as Ce­cil County State’s At­tor­ney. Rollins was re-elected in 2014.

Be­fore this crim­i­nal case, Rollins was con­sid­ered a front-run­ner to fill the va­cant Ce­cil County Cir­cuit Court judge­ship — a po­si­tion pre­vi­ously held by both his late grand­fa­ther, Ed­ward Dorsey El­lis Rollins Sr., who presided from 1957 to 1969, and his late fa­ther, E.D.E. Rollins Jr., who served on the bench from 1984 to 2002.

Rollins made the “short list” two other times, af­ter go­ing through the ju­di­cial nom­i­nat­ing process, but lost his bids for those open judge­ships to Whe­lan in 2010 and Jane Cairns Mur­ray in 2011. Rollins, who is a Republican, was in­ter­viewed by then-Gov. Martin O’Mal­ley, a Demo­crat, af­ter mak­ing those short lists.

Ce­cil Whig re­porter Carl Hamil­ton con­trib­uted to this story.


E.D.E. “El­lis” Rollins III with­drew from con­sid­er­a­tion for a va­cant Ce­cil County Cir­cuit Court judge­ship in light of fac­ing charges of in­de­cent ex­po­sure last week.


Gov. Larry Hogan told WBOC-TV re­porter Tashawna Gaines that he would “prob­a­bly not” ap­point Ce­cil County State’s At­tor­ney El­lis Rollins III to an open cir­cuit court judge­ship.

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