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Proceedings and Debates of the 1967 Constitutional Convention
Volume 104, Volume 1, Debates 1335   View pdf image (33K)
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[Nov. 28] DEBATES 1335

have any familiarity with the workings of
the attorney general's office in the State
of Maryland, as far as criminal cases are
concerned, you realize we need one place
where we can have decisions that are con-

If we let every state's attorney appeal
and take his own cases to the Court of Ap-
peals, you would have no set fixed law with
respect to these cases.

In fact, we only have about five, what
we might call, full-time state's attorneys
in the whole State of Maryland. Mostly
your state's attorneys are part-time. They
do not have the staff or the manpower to
handle appeal cases. It has been proven
that a fresh approach on criminal appeals
is better.

THE CHAIRMAN: Delegate Byrnes.

mended though, I believe, in the Majority
Recommendation, I do not know that you
have dissented from that, that districts
may be established by the General As-

I would think the intent of that is to
eliminate in the future this problem that
you just referred to. My point is, are you
really strong on this one point, that the
attorney general's office, rather than the
state's attorney's office, should handle ap-
peals of criminal cases?

Would you object to an amendment de-
leting that one point?

THE CHAIRMAN: Delegate Mason.

DELEGATE MASON: I think there is
a very good reason for having the attorney
general handle all of those appeals, but we
do have cases where if a state's attorney is
sufficiently interested in a case, we permit
him to go to the Court of Appeals and
argue the case.

We confer with him on the brief. If he
has some additional points he wants to
raise, he can do that, so we do work in
complete cooperation with the state's attor-
neys. But I think the appeals should rest
with the attorney general's office.

THE CHAIRMAN: Delegate Byrnes.

DELEGATE BYRNES: Finally, this,
sir: You suggest to us that the attorney
general has the responsibility to act as
counsel for the people, act as counsel for
the judiciary, and also for the legislative
branch of the government. And I would ask
you what your authority for that is, other

than the statement made by Attorney Gen-
eral Burch.

Before you answer, I would like to refer
you to page 42 of the most recent MARY-
LAND MANUAL, where the office recites what
it perceives to be its objectives.

It recites six of them and nowhere do I
see any reference whatever to these three
added objectives, if I may, except in the
final one, where it says this: To approve
as to form the legal sufficiency all legisla-
tion passed by the General Assembly after
its presentation to the governor.

This suggests to me that again he is rep-
resenting the governor in that role, and no
one else. But I would ask then, keeping in
mind your statement of objectives, that
since it does not say anything about repre-
senting the judiciary, the legislative branch
or the people, but speaks only in terms of
representing the executive branch and the
agencies, where will I find the authority
for your statement and General Burch's
statement that he somehow has an addi-
tional responsibility?

THE CHAIRMAN: Delegate Mason.

DELEGATE MASON: Well, of course
you will not find it in the MARYLAND MAN-
UAL. We do not consider the MARYLAND
MANUAL as authority for the duties of the
attorney general. I invite you, however, to
turn to page three of the Minority Report
and you will find the duties of the attorney
general amplified on that page, and it spe-
cifically sets forth what he does in the
legislative branch, what he does in the
judicial branch, and what he does with the
executive branch.

THE CHAIRMAN : Delegate Hardwicke.

Mason, you stated that the attorney gen-
eral is the chief legal officer of the State.
What quality do you believe is most im-
portant in the selection of this legal of-
ficer? What quality may I ask you, sir, do
you believe is the one that will most help
him to be the best legal officer available?

THE CHAIRMAN: Delegate Mason.

DELEGATE MASON: Well, I cannot
think of any one particular quality. Of
course, he has to be a good attorney, but
by being a good attorney does not neces-
sarily make him a good attorney general.

I think there are several qualities he
must have. He must be a good public
servant, with knowledge of the attorney
general's office.



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Proceedings and Debates of the 1967 Constitutional Convention
Volume 104, Volume 1, Debates 1335   View pdf image (33K)
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