Jessamy draws a challenger for Baltimore state's attorney

Baltimore had four mayors and six police commissioners but just one chief prosecutor in the past 15 years — Patricia C. Jessamy, who having survived any number of legal and political battles seemed poised for another election win this fall. But in July, Gregg Bernstein, a well-connected former federal prosecutor, sat poised to enter the race against her and run a serious if uphill challenge. Bernstein is "the most credible candidate she has faced," says Page Croyder, a former prosecutor under Jessamy who now blogs about criminal justice issues and frequently criticizes her former boss. "He's from a large firm; he has an excellent reputation. He could mount a campaign." Croyder and others in the legal community expected a pitched fight, with the campaign tapping into the always deep emotions that accompany the issue of crime and how it is prosecuted in Baltimore. Jessamy had come under fire over the years for the handling of high-profile cases, from agreeing to a plea deal in the case of the beating death of Zach Sowers, a finance employee at the Johns Hopkins University, near his Patterson Park home several years ago to initially opposing the release of Michael Austin in 2002 after 27 years in prison on a faulty murder conviction.
Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor
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