There are many people in Harford County — in law enforcement, government, the courts — who want to make a difference. Add new State’s Attorney Albert Peisinger Jr. to the list.
“There are problems we are facing, we all know what they are, we all want to make that difference,” Peisinger said, “and I want to be part of it.”
Peisinger, who prefers the less formal “Al,” was sworn in Friday by Clerk of the Court James Reilly as the first new state’s attorney in 36 years in Harford County. He takes over from Joseph Cassilly, who was first elected in 1982 and re-elected every four years since until he decided not to run again.
“We have a huge crisis in front of us. The easy part is putting away the bad guys,” Peisinger said. “The hard part is to make a difference and fight the opiate crisis. [Sheriff] Jeff [Gahler], you have a new partner. [Harford County Executive] Barry [Glassman], you have a new partner. I will be there 24/7, just like Joe was.”
Peisinger didn’t want a big swearing-in ceremony. He vowed to keep it short on a late Friday afternoon in front of a packed ceremonial courtroom of Harford County Circuit Court presided over by the six judges of the court. Also attending were local elected and appointed officials and police chiefs as well as family, friends and colleagues.
Among those joining Peisinger, 47, were his wife of 20 years, Christa, and their sons, Nathan, 14, and Lucas, who turned 12 Friday, and Peisinger’s parents, Mary Jo and Albert Peisinger Sr.
He thanked everyone in the audience, but singled out his wife.
“Truly, she puts up with everything,” Peisinger said. “I would not be the man or lawyer I am without her.”
He formally takes over the office Monday, when he and the deputy and assistant state’s attorneys for Harford County will take the oath of office.
Friday’s ceremony was about Peisinger, and how he’s meant to be the top prosecutor in Harford County, his friend and campaign manager, Eric McLauchlin, said.
Many people follow a windy path to their careers, he said.
“They find it through trial and error, through comfort and discomfort, through success and failure,” McLaughlin said. “I find it remarkable this is not the case with Al. He’s always wanted to be a prosecutor, he’s always been a prosecutor… This is what Al wanted to do.”
Peisinger would go to work his mother in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, where she spent 27 years, and watch the discipline of the prosecutors and the support staff and the sincerity with which they approached their work, McLauchlin said.
“He keeps those memories and those feelings with him,” McLauchlin said.
Peisinger would later work for the city state’s attorney’s office as a prosecutor for 21 years before retiring in October 2016 to run his campaign.
“Mr. Cassilly, your hope for the community was that the next state’s attorney have fire and passion, and we’re getting that. Al is built for this,” McLaughlin said.
The job of state’s attorney, and deputies and assistants, comes with stress and pressure and work behind the scenes the public rarely hears about, he said.
“What they do is confident humility; it’s public service,” McLauchlin said. “It’s challenging and emotional work, part of what makes it attractive to certain people. It’s not for everyone, but it is for Al. It always has been.”
Peisinger has learned in the last 18 months to two years that a team is what makes a difference and his team accomplished what many thought they couldn’t — be elected as state’s attorney.
“We were the underdog, and we did great things in two years,” Peisinger said after taking the oath. “The journey has been fantastic, and what’s even better is we get to continue.”
The new state’s attorney will bring on his former trial partner in Baltimore City, MiaBeth Marosy, and former Harford assistant state’s attorney M. Teresa Garland, to be his deputy state’s attorneys. Peisinger has also hired Timothy Doory, a former assistant state’s attorney who became a Baltimore Circuit Court judge. Doory recently retired from the bench and will join the Harford state’s attorney’s office at the end of January.
Peisinger thanked Cassilly for making the transition so easy, and promised “I will not be here 36 years.”
“Thank you Joe, it’s been great the last six weeks,” Peisinger said. “I know you asked for someone to take care of this office, I know it’s your baby, you’ve been here 41 years. I will make it mine, I will make you proud... I will take care of the office.”