BALTIMORE (WJZ) — When the new city state’s attorney ran for office, Gregg Bernstein promised to actually try criminal cases himself.
Suzanne Collins explains that’s exactly what he is doing Friday in an officer’s misconduct case.
The former state’s attorney never tried cases, but Bernstein believes it’s important to show his assistants how he handles a prosecution.
When Bernstein ran for state’s attorney, he criticized his predecessor, Pat Jessamy, for never appearing in a courtroom to prosecute a case. He implied she’d been out of touch with what goes on in the trenches.
“I can’t think of a better way to get an understanding and perspective of what they do than to do it myself,” said Bernstein.
This week, for the first time, Bernstein is trying a misconduct case against three city officers charged with abandoning a young man they were investigating and leaving them in a Howard County park without shoes or a phone.
“It’s not about cherry picking some high-profile case. I just felt this was the right one. The person in charge of the police misconduct unit had retired,” said Bernstein.
But the choice could have another benefit. Bernstein was criticized by Jessamy as being too close to Baltimore City Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld, who endorsed him in the race for state’s attorney.
Bernstein celebrated 100 days in office this week.
“My one big surprise to take away is the level of support and enthusiasm I am getting from the community. I go out most nights to community groups to talk to people ’cause I think it’s important,” said Bernstein.
In the first 100 days, an experienced defense lawyer has been named to head the police misconduct unit and a full-time person has been hired to oversee the training of prosecutors.
Bernstein also tells WJZ he has improved technology. The office has voice mail for the first time and BlackBerries have been ordered.