Mourners crowded St. Anne's Church in Annapolis on Tuesday to pay tribute to Judge Warren B. Duckett Jr., a renowned jurist and politician who died June 10 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.

Duckett, 64, did much to modernize the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office during his 15 years in office, spurning offers to run for more prominent political positions for many years. In 1988, he was chosen to serve as a judge, a day a friend recalled as "the happiest day in his life," stepping down in 1995 because of the disease.

In public service he made many friends, and Tuesday the church was packed with them. County Executive Janet S. Owens (D), and County Council member Cathleen Marie Vitale (R-Severna Park) attended, as did Maryland Budget Secretary Chip DiPaula Jr. and a vast host of local lawyers and court officials.

His only sibling, Catherine "Kitty" Miller, told the audience that the young Duckett had overcome early health problems -- eczema, allergies and bouts of bronchitis -- to get where he wanted to go.

"I seldom remember him crying," Miller said. "He was a wonderful, remarkable brother."

Paul Bowen, a close friend, recalled that Duckett earned the nickname "Ace" on the University of Maryland lacrosse team because of the Ace bandages he wore after bruising practices.

"Getting clobbered didn't seem to matter to him," Bowen said. "He was a steadfast source of strength for me."

George Lantzas, who served as an assistant state's attorney under Duckett, called him "a man of intense, unrelenting energy," which he directed toward revolutionizing the county state's attorney's office. While in office, Duckett established victims' counseling programs and began dealing with forensics and other sophisticated points of criminal investigations.

"Warren has left this county better than he found it," Lantzas said.

A bagpiper blared "Amazing Grace" as the crowd headed to St. Anne's Cemetery, where Duckett was buried.

Drawing Controversy

Harriet Tubman's famed Underground Railroad might have a stop in Annapolis City Hall soon, if the city's Art in Public Places Commission is able to proceed with plans to place portraits of three prominent women across from the four Maryland signers of the Declaration of Independence.

But the plans to put portraits of Tubman, as well as the locally famous Historic Annapolis firebrand Anne St. Clair Wright and Anne Katherine Green, the first woman in the United States to run a print shop, are already causing a stir.

"Give me a break," sputtered Alderwoman Louise Hammond (D-Ward 1), on being informed of the plans by a reporter. "That's the dumbest thing in the world."

Recovering her composure slightly, she added: "Seriously, we're talking about the signers of the Declaration . . . [Green] is not on the same level." Not to mention that Tubman never lived in Annapolis.

It has been a difficult few weeks for the Art in Public Places Commission. Its proposal for a mural of the city's maritime heritage on the rear wall behind City Hall was challenged by Historic Annapolis President Greg Stiverson, speaking, he said, as a private citizen.

City officials supported the plan because the mural could work to deter graffiti artists who often practice on the wall.

But in the end there was some respite for the art commission. The Historic Preservation Commission approved the plan.