Davitt and his tiny band of investigators roam the state of Maryland with the unusual charge of pursuing election shenanigans and public corruption. The little-known Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor is believed to be the only one of its kind in the nation.
From a high-rise north of Baltimore, the bearded former high school guidance counselor takes on cases that are too politically sensitive for Maryland’s elected state’s attorneys or attorney general — and too small for federal prosecutors.
“He doesn’t have to answer to anybody; he’s just there to do the right thing,” said state Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), who chairs the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. “They are on a hot streak.”
In the last year, Davitt has won convictions of two high-profile political consultants. His case against Prince George’s County Democrat Tiffany Alston led to her removal from the House of Delegates.
This month, Davitt is leading perhaps his highest-profile case yet. Leopold, a Republican, is charged with misusing his taxpayer-funded security detail to research political opponents and facilitate sexual liaisons. Leopold’s defense team has said he did nothing illegal.
That hasn’t stopped Davitt from doggedly pursuing the case in court, where salacious testimony has attracted reporters from more than a dozen media outlets with allegations of parking-lot trysts and police officers instructed to change Leopold’s urine bags during his recovery from back surgery.
Those dramatic tales contrast starkly with Davitt’s style in the courtroom: matter-of-fact and dry — even when he’s pressing witnesses for those sensational stories.
In other ways, Davitt is an unusual candidate for hard-charging political watchdog. One of 10 children in an Irish-Catholic family, Davitt grew up in Chevy Chase and is now the father of four.
He is the son of a Justice Department lawyer who spent a career building cases against Soviet-era spies.
But initially, Davitt chose a different path for himself: high school guidance counselor. He spent a year after college working with delinquent teenagers in the woods of West Virginia. Only much later, while working as a counselor at his alma mater, Good Counsel High School in Wheaton, did he enroll in night school to study law.
Davitt learned to think on his feet in the courtroom by handling drug cases in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office. His focus shifted to white-collar crime in the state Attorney General’s office, where he led the insurance fraud division. He then joined the general counsel’s office at the Public Service Commission to investigate complaints against utilities.