Special prosecutor emerging as option in conflict cases
In the case involving an altercation last week between Baltimore Clerk of Circuit Court Frank M. Conaway Sr. and a blogger, State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein has said his office won't make the decision on whether to file criminal charges or handle any ensuing court proceedings.
That responsibility will instead fall to Steven I. Kroll, a former Baltimore County prosecutor who now works as a coordinator for Maryland's association of state's attorneys. In recent months, Kroll's position has evolved from one that deals with ethics and training issues, to also serving as a special outside counsel for cases in which prosecutors say their offices have a potential conflict of interest.
Kroll will be sworn in, review the case, and, if he determines charges should be filed, will handle the proceedings.
Traditionally, prosecutors often tap neighbors in other jurisdictions to take on the cases in which there's a possible conflict of interest. Eventually, they repay the favor.
But, with prosecutors faced with tightening budgets and a reluctance to ask others to add to their burden, Kroll has presented an alternative. He receives no additional pay for taking on these cases, and makes decisions independently of any prosecutor's office, instead drawing on his 26 years as a Baltimore County prosecutor.
Kroll did not respond to requests for comment, but those who have worked with him say he was eager to return to the courtroom.
"Steven Kroll was a great option," said Wicomico County State's Attorney Matthew Maciardello, who asked Kroll to handle a case involving a supporter of his campaign. "He's ready, willing and able to come down, and nobody can question his integrity or his motives."