After months of name-calling and enough dueling statistics to confuse a mathematician, the state's attorney's race in Anne Arundel County boils down to two qualities: experience and credibility. Incumbent Democrat Frank R. Weathersbee possesses both; Republican John R. Greiber Jr. does not.
Think about this: If you are charged with a crime, you want an experienced criminal lawyer to defend you. By the same token, citizens want the person prosecuting criminals to possess some expertise in the field. Mr. Weathersbee is no one's idea of a dynamic prosecutor, but he has been a prosecutor for 20 years. His record has flaws, but he understands the judicial process and his overall history is respectable.
His opponent, a constitutional lawyer with aggressiveness but virtually no experience in criminal law, insists such experience is unnecessary because the job is mainly administrative. We disagree, but would almost accept that argument if he had shown a willingness to learn what he doesn't know and if he had shown a healthy respect for criminal law. Yet Mr. Greiber derides the field as beneath him. After one year of what he calls
in-depth study, his understanding of the judicial system remains superficial. Throughout the campaign he has stumbled clumsily as he's attempted to attack Mr. Weathersbee by confusing the relationship between police arrests and Circuit and District court cases. Mr. Greiber also has been evasive about his work history prior to 1989, and his resume contains half-truths.
Our previous criticisms of Mr. Weathersbee for being too cautious and a poor communicator still stand. Part of his job is making people feel safe, showing he understands their fears and explaining why a charge has to be dropped or a case plea-bargained. He must do better at this.
Some mistakes have been made on Mr. Weathersbee's watch. We do not excuse them. But they account for a tiny percentage of the thousands of cases his office handles each year. Mr.
Weathersbee has managed his budget responsibly and he takes his job seriously. Finally, a cautious prosecutor is preferable to a reckless one, which we fear Mr. Greiber would be.
Mr. Weathersbee is the better choice in 1994.
Tomorrow: County Executive, District 27B