Governor O'Malley Announces Benjamin Civiletti as Chairman of Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment, Announces Commission Members

Commission Tasked with Studying Death Penalty in Maryland


ANNAPOLIS, MD (July 10, 2008) – Governor Martin O’Malley today, joined by Speaker of the House Michael Busch, announced Benjamin Civiletti, former U.S. Attorney General, as Chairman of the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment. Governor O’Malley today also announced the 22 other members of the Commission, which is tasked with studying all aspects of capital punishment as currently and historically administered in the State.

“I am honored to name Benjamin Civiletti as Chairman of the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment,” said Governor O’Malley. “General Civiletti’s integrity and long history of public service will be assets to the Commission. I am confident that he and the other members of the Commission will make fair and unbiased recommendations to the members of the Maryland General Assembly on this important issue.”

“The Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment will undertake an unprecedented comprehensive assessment of Maryland's death penalty statute,” said Speaker Michael E. Busch. “The diversity of backgrounds and philosophies represented by the members of this Commission reflect the many views of our community. We are fortunate to have Ben Civiletti, a national leader in the legal community, to help ensure an objective evaluation.”

The Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment was created by an act of the Maryland General Assembly in the 2008 legislative session. The Commission’s membership is comprised of 13 gubernatorial appointees and 9 non-gubernatorial appointees and represents the broad diversity of views on capital punishment, as well as the racial, ethnic, gender, and geographic diversity of the State. The Chair is jointly selected by the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the Senate President. The law requires the Commission to make recommendations to address: racial, jurisdictional, and socio-economic disparities; the risk of innocent people being executed; a comparison of the costs and effects of “prolonged court cases involving capital punishment” versus cases involving life imprisonment without the possibility of parole; and “the impact of DNA evidence in assuring fairness and accuracy in capital cases.” The Commission will submit a final report on its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly on or before December 15, 2008.

Ben Civiletti served as the United States Attorney General from 1979 to 1981, during the Carter Administration. During his tenure he argued several high profile cases on behalf of the United States, including arguing before the International Court of Justice on behalf of Americans held captive in Iran during the Iran Hostage Crisis, and arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the government’s right to denaturalize Nazi war criminals. He was an Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1962 to 1964, before joining the Baltimore law firm of Venable, Baetjer & Howard. In 1977, he left private practice to join the U.S. Department of Justice. He served as Deputy U.S. Attorney General from 1977 to 1979, before becoming Attorney General in 1979. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the Johns Hopkins University and received his Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1961. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Baltimore Urban League’s Equal Justice Award, and was a founding Chair of the Maryland Legal Services Corporation. He currently works as a senior partner at Venable, LLP, in Baltimore and formerly served as chair of the firm.

The following is a list of members appointed by Governor O’Malley to the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment – and the groups they represent, as required by the law establishing the Commission:

Chief Bernadette DiPino, Representing the Maryland Chiefs of Police – Chief DiPino is a resident of Worcester County and serves as Chief of Police for the Ocean City Police Department. She is a fourth-generation police officer who has been in law enforcement for 23 years. Chief Dipino currently serves as 2nd Vice President of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association and is a member of the International Chiefs of Police Association. She graduated from the FBI National Academy’s 204th session in March 2001.

Percel Odel Alston, Jr., Representing the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police – Officer Alston is the Immediate Past President of the Prince George’s County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 89 and presently serves as the Legislative Chairman for the Maryland State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police. Mr. Alston served in the Prince George’s Police Department for 23 years in the narcotics division, and as an undercover drug officer. Mr. Alston regularly testifies in federal, circuit and district court cases as an expert on narcotics.

Noel Lewis Godfrey, Correctional Officer Representative – Mr. Godfrey is a correctional officer in the Jessup Correctional Facility. He has been a correctional officer since 1991. He is a shop-steward and Board member of AFSCME with an educational background in English and Constitutional law. Mr. Godfrey is also an associate minister at the New Antioch Church of Randallstown.

Kirk Noble Bloodsworth, Former State Prisoner who was Exonerated – Mr. Bloodsworth is a former Marine who was convicted of sexual assault, rape, and first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to death in 1984. Mr. Bloodworth’s case was the first Capital conviction overturned as a result of DNA testing in the United States. He served 9 years in prison and after numerous appeals and after DNA testing in the case, it was determined in 1993 that his DNA did not match what was found at the crime scene and he was finally released as a result. Currently, Mr. Bloodsworth serves as a program officer for the Justice Project and the Justice Project Education Fund.

Reverend Alan M. Gould, Sr., Representing the Religious Community – Reverend Alan Gould, Sr. of Dorchester County has been a member of the clergy for the A.M.E. Church since 1978. He is a pastor at the Historic Bethel A.M.E. Church in Cambridge and has served in numerous business and communal capacities throughout his career.

Most Reverend Denis J. Madden, Archdiocese of Baltimore, Representing the Religious Community – Most Reverend (Bishop) Denis Madden is an Urban Vicar in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and oversees approximately 50 parishes in Baltimore City. Bishop Madden is a licensed clinical psychologist in the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia. He has edited a book and written a number of journal articles in the field of psychology and has also worked as a counselor for the Associated Catholic Charities in Maryland.

Rabbi Mark G. Loeb, Beth El Congregation, Representing the Religious Community – Rabbi Mark Loeb is currently Rabbi Emeritus at Beth El Congregation in Baltimore County. Rabbi Loeb also served as Chair of the Committee on Government Relations for the Baltimore Jewish Community Relations Council, and served 4 years on the Clergy Interfaith Roundtable as Chair.

Rick N. Prothero, Brother of Victim, Representing Family Member of Murder Victim – Mr. Prothero is a resident of Harford County and is a physical therapist with his own clinic in Havre De Grace. Mr. Prothero’s brother was a Baltimore County Police Officer who was working as an off-duty security guard when he was shot and killed during a robbery in February of 2000 in Pikesville.

Vicki A. Schieber, Mother of Victim, Representing Family Member of Murder Victim - Mrs. Schieber has a background in financial and management roles and has been active in non-profits dedicated to literacy programs that serve the elderly, disabled and low-income residents of Washington, D.C. Mrs. Schieber serves as Chair of the Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, a national group. In 1998, her daughter was raped and murdered while finishing her first year of graduate school at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Oliver Smith, Father of Victim, Representing Family Member of Murder Victim – Mr. Smith is a resident of Prince George’s County with over 35 years of experience in the telecommunications field. In 1997, Mr. Smith’s son, a Metropolitan police officer, was shot and killed, execution-style, outside of his home during a robbery attempt. Since this tragedy, Mr. Smith has dedicated his life to bringing awareness to the public, police and the judicial system about victimization issues. He is a founding member of the Washington, D.C. chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS).

Matthew Campbell, Representing Member of the Public - Mr. Campbell is legal counsel for the Market Regulation Department of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, where he does securities regulation, investigation, and litigation. Prior to that, he served as Deputy State’s Attorney for the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office. He also served in the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office as a white collar crime investigator, an Assistant State’s Attorney, and Deputy State’s Attorney.

David Kendall, Partner, Williams and Connolly LLP, Representing Member of the Public – Mr. Kendall, a Montgomery County resident and partner at Williams and Connolly, LLP, in Washington, has practiced law for over 30 years. After clerking on the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice Byron R. White, Mr. Kendall spent five years as Associate Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. In that capacity, in 1977, Mr. Kendall argued the case of Coker v. Georgia before the Supreme Court – in which the Supreme Court declared the death penalty for the rape of an adult woman unconstitutional where the victim’s life had not been taken. He has written several scholarly articles on constitutional media and criminal law and has taught at Columbia University’s School of Law and Georgetown Law Center.

Delegate Sandy Rosenberg, District 41, Baltimore City, Representing Member of the Public – Delegate Rosenberg currently serves as Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee and has been a member of the General Assembly for 24 years. He is a former legislative assistant on Capitol Hill, and a past Board member of the ACLU and the Citizens Planning and Housing Association.

The following members were appointed by Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller to the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment:

Senator Jamie Raskin – Senator Raskin has been a member of the Maryland State Senate since 2007. He is currently a member of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, and a Professor of Constitutional Law at American University’s Washington College of Law. He is a former member of the Hate Crimes Commission in Montgomery County, and a former member of the Gun Policy Task Force for the City of Takoma Park. He served as an Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1987 to 1989.

Senator James N. Robey – Senator Robey has been a member of the Maryland State Senate since 2007. He is currently the Assistant Deputy Majority Leader, and a member of the Budget and Taxation Committee, and the Public Safety, Transportation & Environment Subcommittee. He served as County Executive for Howard County from 1998 to 2006. He was Chief of Police for Howard County from 1991 to 1998 and a police officer from 1966 to 1991.

The following members were appointed by Speaker of the House Michael Busch to the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment:

Delegate Adrienne A. Jones – Delegate Jones has been a member of House of Delegates since 1997, and Speaker Pro Tem since 2003. She is a member of the Appropriations Committee. She is currently the Executive Director for the Office of Fair Practices and Community Affairs in Baltimore County. She also served as Director for the Office of Minority Affairs for Baltimore County from 1989 to 1995.

Delegate William Frank – Delegate Frank has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2003, and has served as Chief Deputy Minority Whip since 2005. He is a member of the Judiciary Committee. He is a development and marketing consultant for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

The following members will be representing various legal and public safety entities, as required by the law establishing the Commission:

Shannetta Paskel, Representing Attorney General Douglas Gansler – Ms. Paskel is an Assistant Attorney General and Director for the Office of Legislative Affairs in the Maryland Attorney General’s office. Prior to that she served as Assistant Attorney General for the District of Columbia from 2005 to 2007. She also worked for the Prince George’s County Office of Child Support Enforcement from 2003 to 2005.

The Honorable William Spellbring, Former Member of the Judiciary as Appointed by Chief Judge Bell – Judge Spellbring was a Circuit Court Judge for Prince George’s County from 1992 until his retirement in 2007. Prior to that, he was a lawyer at O’Malley & Miles. He began his legal career as an Assistant State’s Attorney from 1971 to 1976. He served in the United States Army America Division in the Republic of Vietnam from 1969 to 1970.

Secretary Gary Maynard, Secretary of Public Safety & Correctional Services – Secretary Maynard has served as Secretary for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services since 2007. Prior to that he was the Director for the Iowa Department of Corrections, from 2003 to 2007. From 2001 to 2003, he was the Director of the Department of Corrections for South Carolina. He served as Secretary for Veterans Affairs for the State of Oklahoma from 1993 to 1995 and was the Director of the Southwestern Region for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Katy O’Donnell, Representative of the Office of the Public Defender – Ms. O’Donnell is the Chief Attorney of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender’s Capital Defense Division. The Capital Defense Division coordinates the delivery of statewide legal defense services in capital murder cases.

Scott Shellenberger, State’s Attorney who has prosecuted a death penalty case – Mr. Shellenberger has been the Baltimore County State’s Attorney since 2007. He has worked for the Law Office of Peter G. Angelos, and has served as Supervising Attorney in the Baltimore County State’s Attorney Office.


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