By Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor
(June 21, 2018) Ever since Beau Oglesby was named by Gov. Larry Hogan as a Circuit Court judge early this year, his deputy and interim State’s Attorney Bill McDermott has had his eye on the top spot — though he would tell it differently.
“I grew up right here in Snow Hill. I’m a product of the Eastern Shore, and I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a prosecutor,” he said. “I would run home from school to go watch the cases at the courthouse. I thought the prosecutors were the good guys.”
McDermott started as a law clerk, became an assistant state’s attorney and was promoted to deputy state’s attorney by Oglesby.
“Beau and I complemented each other. We have independent strengths — I’m a fairly good storyteller and can put facts to a timeline. He did too, but in a different style: he was more sterile and I put emotion and heart into it,” he said.
Oglesby would do the opening statement and lay out the facts, while McDermott would close by marrying the facts to the law in the closing argument, he said.
“I tried cases that would make headlines in the newspapers while the running the day-to-day operations of the office, like making sure everyone was paid,” he said.
McDermott spent time at both district and circuit courts trying cases.
“There is no type of case I haven’t tried. I have 18 homicide convictions but also focus on cases like the Berlin spraypaint vandals,” he said.
“I can show who does the job better,” McDermott said. “I sit on various boards, and what we have now in Worcester County is a place that’s headed in the right direction.”
His main goal is for the county to keep or improve upon the 22 percent reduction in crime he said the county has achieved in the past eight years.
“It was not like this before. I have things working well with a high degree of efficiency,” he said. We were just awarded our fifth citation for the highest DUI conviction rate in the state of Maryland,” he said.
The State’s Attorney’s Office has received this citation five of the past six years, McDermott said.
“People die needlessly every day from driving under the influence. We need to send the message that we take this very seriously in Worcester County, and take more of these drivers off the street,” he said.
As for opioids, McDermott said a similar structure is in place and is starting to bear fruit.
“We’re dealing with the opioid crisis. We have civilian partners, like the Worcester Warriors and an action team, but it’s an enormous effort. We’re doing what we do right — we hold people accountable, and you don’t read that the State’s Attorney dropped the ball,” he said.
McDermott also touts the strength of his own deputy, Diane Karsnitz.
“One of the biggest things I had to do was choose my deputy, but it wasn’t a hard choice. Diane Karsnitz is one of the preeminent and fiercest prosecutors of sexual predators in the state,” he said. “The office is much stronger with us in it.”
Seeing the job from his perspective and from his experience, McDermott said the choice between him and opponent Kris Heiser is clear.
“I know this is one of, if not the most important race on the ticket, and I know it because I’ve been here,” he said. “When you have what we have in Worcester County, you keep those people in charge.”