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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Pr. George's: Alsobrooks sworn in

By Ruben Castaneda
Ruben Castaneda

Angela D. Alsobrooks officially became the youngest State's Attorney in Prince George's County history when she was sworn in Tuesday afternoon at the Upper Marlboro courthouse.

During a ceremony that lasted an hour and 45 minutes, Circuit Court Judge Sheila R. Tillerson-Adams administered the oath of office to Alsobrooks, 39,inside a third-floor courtroom filled with family, friends, county prosecutors, defense attorneys, political supporters, and state elected officials.

Among the fellow Democrats on hand for Alsobrooks's swearing-in were U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.), County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, former county Executive Wayne K. Curry, and Montgomery State's Attorney John McCarthy.

Alsobrooks's 5-year-old daughter, Alexandra, stood next to her as she took the oath of office.

In a polished, 15-minute speech, Alsobrooks spoke of the long odds she faced when she first began campaigning for the office in the summer of 2009. Polls showed she was known by a scant 2 percent of voters in the county, Alsobrooks said. As she went into neighborhoods to meet voters in the early days of her campaign, Alsobrooks said, Alexandra was often her only companion.

She recalled that her daughter would say to voters,"My mommy is running for state journey. Please vote for my mom."

Alsobrooks acknowledged the great challenges she and the 70 prosecutors in the office face: Those include more than 40,000 criminal cases a year, including hundreds of serious felonies such as murder, rape, and robbery; a caseload of 10 to 12 cases for each of the four homicide prosecutors; a workload about four times the national average; and relatively low salaries, compared to those earned by private defense attorneys and federal prosecutors.

"But despite all the challenges and sacrifices, today I am going to ask you for even more," Alsobrooks said, directing her comments to the prosecutors in the office.
"For many victims and survivors who walk into this courthouse, we represent their last, best hope that justice will be done," Alsobrooks said. "You will be the shield for the weak, the vindicator of the victimized, the advocate for the voiceless."

Alsobrooks said she plans on placing a prosecutor in each of the five county police districts, so they can get to know the people and issues in those communities. By getting to know people in specific communities, Alsobrooks said, prosecutors will have an opportunity to gain their trust, which will be important when residents serve on a jury or are needed as witnesses.

Prosecutors will also be expected to not just put people behind bars, but connect with people in need -- such as nonviolent drug offenders -- with social services and job training, Alsobrook said.

Alsobrooks said she plans on continuing Ivey's policy of aggressively prosecuting domestic violence cases.

And Alsobrooks said she will go after parents of school kids who are chronically truant.
"I will prosecute parents, especially of elementary and middle school students, not because we are interested in incarcerating parents, but because I believe in the words of our newly elected attorney general of California, Kamala Harris, that it is a crime for a child to go without an education."

Alsobrooks gathered her prosecutors and support staff at 7:30 Wednesday morning to go over her mission statement, which states that prosecutors are expected to be prepared, to work as long as it takes to get the job done, and to deal with members of the public with courtesy and respect.

By Ruben Castaneda  | January 5, 2011; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Pr. George's, Ruben Castaneda  | Tags:  Prince George's County crime  
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