The Carroll County Delegation held their Annual Local Public Hearing on proposed county legislation on November 17th. One of the pieces of proposed legislation discussed was: “Carroll County State’s Attorney – Private Practice – Prohibition: Legislation to codify the prohibition on Carroll County State’s Attorney conducting private legal practice while in office”. This legislation was introduced in the meeting by Delegate Haven Shoemaker (who is also a candidate for State’s Attorney in Carroll County in 2022).
To say this topic was a little controversial at the meeting on November 17th would be fair. Specifically between Delegate Shoemaker and David Ellin (also a candidate for State’s Attorney in Carroll County in 2022).
I wanted to share the press releases from both candidates here in this post.
Here is the press release from Delegate Haven Shoemaker:
SHOEMAKER PROPOSES EXPRESSLY PROHIBITING
THE CARROLL COUNTY STATE’S ATTORNEY FROM
ENGAGING IN THE OUTSIDE PRACTICE OF LAW
At the Carroll County Delegation’s local bill hearing at the County Office Building in Westminster Wednesday night, Delegate Haven N. Shoemaker, (R-Dist. 5), Chairman of the Carroll House Delegation, provided the background behind the need for clarifying existing law regarding the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s position.
“So for whatever reason the State’s Attorney position has become of interest to me and I noticed an anachronism in the law regarding the Carroll County State’s Attorney position. Many years ago, I guess it wasn’t uncommon for the State’s Attorney to be State’s Attorney and also have some form of private law practice on the side. As we sit here today however there are only three counties in the entire state that don’t expressly forbid the State’s Attorney from engaging in private practice on the side. Our county doesn’t expressly forbid it, Baltimore city doesn’t expressly forbid it oddly enough, nor does Garrett County… so we are one of the three. And I suspect, and it goes back to the old days where the State’s Attorney was not compensated particularly well.
In 2017 this delegation took action to tie the State Attorney’s salary to that of a District Court Judge’s salary. And as we all know a District Court Judge makes in the neighborhood of $160,000 and they cannot engage in the outside practice of law. So, it makes sense to me if we are going to pay a State’s Attorney what we pay a District Court Judge then the same rules should apply to the State’s Attorney and we should expressly preclude as State’s Attorney from engaging in the outside practice of law. They should be devoting their full energy and attention to being State’s Attorney and not be sidetracked by the day-to-day troubles of running an outside practice. So that’s the reason for this particular proposal that’s on our agenda. “
Shoemaker, whether the bill passes or not, pledges to close his legal practice on Main Street in Hampstead if elected to the position of State’s Attorney. One person was outspoken in his opposition to the bill on the record – his opponent, David Ellin, a medical malpractice lawyer with an office in Baltimore County that employs a dozen staff members. After Ellin’s remarks, Shoemaker questioned whether $160,000 was enough for Mr. Ellin. The State’s Attorney is responsible for prosecuting criminals, coordinating with law enforcement at all hours, day and night, and ensuring victims of crime receive justice. Witness the train wreck in Baltimore City, where top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, refuses to prosecute criminals and enforce laws on the books while conducting real estate business, traveling and being an honorary circus ringmaster. The job of State’s Attorney is too important to elect someone whose full attention is not focused solely on public safety.
Here is the press release from David Ellin:
Shame on You, Mr. Shoemaker!
Wednesday evening, at the Carroll County Legislative Delegation Public Hearing Meeting, the media missed the opportunity to see one of the most self-serving, bogus pieces of legislation that has been proposed in the past 50 years.
In the hopes of not being noticed, Delegate Haven Shoemaker, a candidate for Carroll County State’s Attorney, deviously proposed a law prohibiting the State’s Attorney from maintaining a private practice. Mind you that Mr. Shoemaker’s only opponent in the upcoming election happens to be David Ellin, an attorney in private practice. Just like on previous occasions Mr. Shoemaker did not shy away from advancing his political career by using unethical and controversial techniques, now he doesn’t want to miss the chance to avail himself of the opportunity to propose a law that would only benefit him.
Mr. Shoemaker, a former County Commissioner and now a two-term State Delegate with oversight of the State’s Attorney’s Office, while maintaining a private practice throughout his political career, never found this issue to be a matter of importance until he needed legislative assistance to advance his political ambitions. He introduced this change in the law during a highly contested election cycle while the other members of the Delegation sat by and allowed him to do so. Since 1944 every State’s Attorney has operated under section 9 of Article 5 of the Constitution of the State of Maryland that gives the General Assembly authority over the State’s Attorneys salary. In addition, Maryland Code Section 40 G2 (Carroll County) “Legal Officials” simply states “The State’s Attorney shall devote full time to the office.” Why now? The timing of it betrays Mr. Shoemaker’s real intentions. Shame on our delegates for allowing a fellow elected official to attempt to change the law to discourage competition and to benefit his own political campaign. Shame on you, Mr. Shoemaker, for lowering yourself to such practices. The entire Delegation should face serious ethical, and conflict of interest concerns if they allow this legislation to pass solely to benefit their colleague.
During the Maryland General Assembly 2017 session House Bill 573 was introduced to increase the pay of the Carroll County State’s Attorney to be comparable to that of a District Court Judge. It passed the House and Senate (SB 0456) and was signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan. If, as Mr. Shoemaker claimed during the public hearing, this raise was necessary to preclude the State’s Attorney from needing to continue a private practice why wasn’t the change he requested instituted at that time? It was only when the issue directly affected his prospects of election that he decided change was necessary.
The media owes it to the people of Carroll County and the entire state of Maryland to cover this story. They deserve to know the lengths to which some of our elected officials will go to help themselves affect the outcome of an election.
Even better than the press releases…watch the introduction (from Delegate Shoemaker) and discussion (including the testimony from David Ellin and one other community member) of this proposed legislation from the November 17th meeting:
You can watch the full meeting from November 17th HERE.
Have thoughts on the topic? Let me know in the comments.