Candidates were asked:
1. Please state your views on the following issues: A - Father Carcich's sentence. B - The prosecution of political corruption in Maryland. C - Overcrowded prisons.
2. In what way, if any, would you alter the role of the attorney general? Richard D. Byrd, 48 of 3438 University Place, Baltimore, is an attorney. He is a former city councilman in Baltimore, a former deputy state's attorney in Baltimore County.
1. Father Carcich's sentence: The case should not have been plea bargained. It should have gone to trial before a jury of citizens of this state and a sentence should have been imposed appropriate with the facts developed at the trial.
Political corruption: All corruption, political or otherwise, should be prosecuted fully and promptly.
Overcrowded prisons: The courts have spoken and I agree with the courts. There is no point in putting a convicted person in a place that is going to make him worse.
2.I would reduce the budget of the office by 10 percent and at the same time increase the efficiency by requiring the personnel to serve full time except in very special part-time positions. I would recommend the removal of the office of state prosecutor to a completely independent status and I would improve the quality of prosecution in the counties by providing educational programs for the younger assistants. Walter G. Finch, 60, of Baltimore, is a patent and tax attorney, a CPA and registered professional engineer. He has been a delegate to state's Constitutional Convention.
1. Father Carcich's sentence: I am definitely opposed to the lenient way this matter was handled. He should have been given a prison sentence commensurate with the crime.
Political corruption: (I am) for criminal investigations promptly of political corruption and then court action of wrongdoings in government.
Overcrowded prisons: Increasing of jail capacity to retain offenders until trial and length of sentence instead of releasing them prematurely to commit more crime.
2. In processing of administrative claims against government; properly and honestly enforcing laws and regulations; protection of consumers by properly and promptly implementation of state laws and regulations; work with educatiors in connection with consumer protection, and monitor the Public Service Commission. Jon F. Oster, 45, of Baltimore, is deputy attorney general. He has served in that office for 14 years.
1. Father Carcich's sentence: I was not attorney general at the time the decision was made to accept Father Carcich's guilty plea, nor was it within may power as assistant attorney general to make that decision. Frankly, it is difficult even for me to speculate on what decision I would have rendered had I been attorney general, but I can make these observations: First, I was extremely disappointed by the terms of Father Carcich's sentence. The sentence the trial judge imposed, entirely with his discretion, was simply too lenient. Second, I have learned a very valuable lesson from the Carcich case - in the future, we must take to full trial cases of political influence and corruption which involve celebrated figures. By indicting such persons, we create a high level of public interest and expectation; this must be taken into account before the trial process is short circuited. Third, sentencing should bear greater relation to the crime. Restitution of victims, an integral part of punishment for thousands of years, should again be utilized to compensate those innocent people whose plight we do often lose sight of. I would have insisted upon restitution in the Carcich case.
Political corruption: It is not constitutionally within the power of the office of the attorney general of the State of Maryland to take an active prosecutorial role in eradication of political corruption. It is ludicrous to suggest otherwise. The attorney general's role is to act as the lawyer for the governor, the legislature and virtually every state department, commission and agency.
Overcrowded prisons: We must get to the root of the crime. More warehousing of criminals can not go on and on. Simply building prisons forever is not a permanent solution. There must be a concentrated effort to get at causes of criminality: poor housing, health, education, job training, prejudice and general lack of economic opportunity. We must take into account additional means and methods of punishment for those who commit crime.
2. It is not within the constitutional power of any incoming attorney general to alter the duties and powers delegated to that office under Maryland law. However, as attorney general, I intend to institute some basic changes in the operation of that office with the goals of increasing the efficiency and professionalism of the attorney general's office.
For example, as attorney general, I would end the 50-year practice of hiring private attorneys to search titles. State-employed attorneys, working in a special real estate section, which I will create, will provide a better, more uniform service than the state gets today from nearly 200 private attorneys across the state. Moreover, it would annually save the state a minimum of $100,000 and dispel all allegations that title work is political patronage belonging to the attorney.
As far as all other outside legal work is concerned, I will award it to the lowest responsible bidder.
In the area of consumer protection, I would place major emphasis on enforcement of existing consumer laws, the great majority of which were recommended and sponsored by our own consumer protection division.
In the field of antitrust, the emphasis again should be on vigorous enforcement of our state's antitrust law, which came into being in 1972.
In managing the office itself, I would seek to professionalize the staff by doing what federal regulatory agencies have done: Prevent agency lawyers from leaving the agencies for private practice, whereupon they immediately go back before their old agencies on behalf of private clients. I will also insist that lawyers working for the attorney general's office not carry on any private practices of law.
As attorney general, I would also create three new sections within the office, all to be manned by specialists. I would ask the legislature to create a charitable trust fund section and make it, and not the secretary of state, responsible for both the registration and regulation of charities. The secretary of state lacks the investigative resources to do an adequate job. In fact, he must now call upon the attorney general whenever he wants to enforce the law. It would be far more efficient if we were to put both aspects of charitable disclosure and enforcement in the same office. I would also create a special litigation division; lawyers in this division would spend all their time in the courtroom. An opinion writing section would also come into being if I were elected attorney general. The lawyers hired for and assigned to this section would be the best writing lawyers we could find; they would be able to turn legalese into plain sounding prose. Stephen H. Sachs, 44, of 2426 Brambleton Rd., Baltimore is a trial lawyer. He has served as an assistant U.S. attorney and as U.S. Attorney for Maryland.
1. Father Carcich's sentence: I cannot think of a better example of the need for more prosecutorial expertise in the attorney general's office than the dreadful result in the Carcich plea bargain, where one who admitted misusing funds intended for the poor, was punished with a slap on the wrist. In my judgment, any self-confident prosecutor's office would have tried that case. I would have.
Political corruption: The power to investigate and prosecute the political corruption cases has been the attorney general's for the asking. In the past, authority was not sought because the attorney general was not independent. The will was lacking. Responsibility was abdicated to appointed federal official prosecutor; he cannot, however, do the job alone.
Overcrowded prisons: It seems clear that merely building new prisons is no solution to our crime problem. We must take a harder look at tough-minded probation, which combines gainful employment for nonviolent offenders and restitution for crime victims, the forgotten people of our present criminal justice system.
2. The attorney general should be a politically independent professional lawyer. He should provide statewide leadership in the fight against crime and corruption. He should be an advocate for needed reforms in the administration of justice - reforms like easing citizen access to government, facilitating the processing of administrative claims, proposing improvements for a correctional system which plainly does not correct and pioneering new data processing techniques to unclog court calendars, locate missing witnesses and aid police and prosecutorial performance.
Above all, the attorney general should see to it that the state itself obeys the law. He should not be loyal apologist for the "house," but should have the political independence and professional fortitude to tell the governor and his appointees when they are wrong. If I am elected attorney general, I will make that office a vehicle to help restore to a state which sorely needs it, trust, respect and confidence in the rule of law.