Montgomery County attorney to head Md. public defender's office

By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Four months after controversy led to the ouster of its chief, the Maryland government agency that provides legal defense to poor people has a new leader: Paul DeWolfe, who has held a similar position in Montgomery County for nine years. He started in his new position Tuesday. "I love representing the underdog," he said.

DeWolfe, 61, worked 10 years as an assistant public defender in Montgomery and 10 years in private practice before taking over Montgomery's public defender's office. In that job, he supervised 31 attorneys and about 30 support staffers. Montgomery's top prosecutor said he will miss DeWolfe's management skill, candor and ease to work with. "I'm going to miss the opportunity to pick up the phone and speak my mind," said State's Attorney John McCarthy.

DeWolfe's new title is Maryland Public Defender. His agency, based in Baltimore, oversees district offices throughout the state. The previous public defender, Nancy Forster, was fired in August in a 2 to 1 vote by the agency's governing board. She said she intends to sue for damages and possibly get her old job back.

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