Ask the prosecuting attorney for Maryland's Anne Arundel County what he thinks of the University of Delaware, and the veteran lawman won't miss a beat.
"My Blue Hens?" booms State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee. "All I can say is, I don't know how we'd run this office without them. We've got Assistant State's Attorney Tom Pryal, AS '85, as the chief of our handgun team; and Dave Cordle, AS '79, as our chief investigator. Then, there's Cindy Haworth, AS '85, the crime-victim advocate; and our former senior law clerk, Frank Gray, AS '94, now an assistant state's attorney.
"And, don't forget Judge Megan Johnson, AS '74. She was an assistant prosecutor here for 16 years before going on the bench last December.
"These guys do a terrific job. So, I have to say: We want more people from Delaware!"
Although Weathersbee concedes he is "a tad biased" in favor of these Delaware grads (his own spouse grew up in Wilmington and Newark), there's no doubt that they play a major role
in the successful functioning of the Annapolis-based crime-fighting operation.
Maryland District Judge Megan Johnson
After spending more than 16 years as an assistant prosecutor, Johnson was appointed to the bench last winter. "I loved the challenge of being a prosecutor," she says, "and I think it was a great training ground for becoming a judge.
"My goal now is service. This is a new role for me, but the purpose is the same-to help the citizens of this county by adjudicating cases in a fair and consistent manner."
Victim/witness Advocate Cindy Martin Haworth
"My role is to help crime victims through the court system," says Haworth, who spends her days helping abused children and the families of murder victims to overcome psychological trauma and prepare for courtroom testimony. "I work with children and the relatives of people who were murdered.
"I'm the person who takes the children to court, shows them the courtroom and talks to them about their fears and concerns. I just finished a case involving a 7-year-old boy-the same age as my son," says Haworth, who became interested in the law while serving as a college intern for former Delaware Attorney Gen. Charles M. Oberly. "And, we won the case!"
On the wall in her office is a greeting card she recently received from an abused 5-year-old. It reads: "My hero. Cindy, thank you!"
Assistant State's Attorney Tom Pryal
After spending nearly a decade as an assistant prosecutor, Pryal says that he's still at it because of the job satisfaction that goes along with serving the public. "You're certainly not gonna get rich as a county prosecutor, and we certainly don't make what we might in private practice.
"But, there's a lot of job satisfaction, to make up for the money. You can go home at night-at least some of the time-and feel like you've done something for other people," Pryal says. "Of course, there are a lot of frustrations, too. I mean, our work often seems like Sisyphus rolling that rock up the hill."
Pryal says he wouldn't trade anything for the daily intellectual challenge of preparing cases for trial: "For me, it all started back in Prof. Leslie Goldstein's course in constitutional law. I found that I could read the cases and analyze them and figure out how the law applied to the facts. After that, I was hooked on the law. And, that's probably how I ended up in this office!"
Assistant State's Attorney Frank Gray
A recent Delaware grad, the hard-charging Gray finished law school only a few months ago. For the past couple of years, he's served as a key resource on Weathersbee's prosecutorial team. "It's my job to do a lot of the research, the digging into the law and the preparation of briefs and arguments," he says.
"Personally, I like the excitement. I find the legal issues quite interesting, and I enjoy wrestling with them. I guess it all started when I was a kid. For me, it was always the 'who-done-it?' that intrigued me!"
-Elizabeth A. Chajes