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Joseph Cassilly, veteran Harford County state’s attorney, will retire Jan. 1

Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly

Joe Cassilly

Saying “I’ve been here long enough,” longtime Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly announced Tuesday that he will retire Jan. 1.

Cassilly, who has been the county’s chief prosecutor since January 1983, said health was not a factor in his decision to step down during his ninth term in office. The 65-year-old, who has often lobbied the General Assembly on behalf of the Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association, said he hopes to continue in that role even after he steps down.

“Retiring doesn’t mean dropping dead, I hope,” Cassilly said. “It just means making time to do other things.”

Cassilly, who served as assistant state’s attorney for six years before being elected to the top post, announced his retirement “with mixed feelings” in a letter to “Harford County residents and citizens of Maryland.”

“I have deeply appreciated the experiences and opportunities that being a prosecutor for more than 39 years has afforded me,” Cassilly wrote. “The trust of my fellow citizens in each election has inspired me to want (to) look for policies, programs and actions which would make our county a place of safety for all in our homes, communities and on our roads.

He thanked the late Harford County Circuit Judge and State’s Attorney Edwin H.W. Harlan Jr., who hired him as a summer law intern in 1975 and let him try cases the following summer as a law student at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

That experience “convinced me I wanted to make prosecution my life’s work,” Cassilly wrote.

In his letter, he recalled not the killers he prosecuted as much as he did the dozens of victims of their crimes, including 8-year-old Marcianno Ringo and 6-year-old Jessica Morgan.

“But this beautiful county that I was raised in and raised children and grandchildren in also surrounds me with images of the victims of violent crimes … whose deaths will not leave my memory,” Cassilly wrote. “It is time for me to leave.”

Due to the intra-term retirement, the Harford County Circuit Court’s judges will choose Cassilly’s successor. The next general election is in 2018.

“I wish that person well and God bless our county, state and country,” Cassilly wrote.


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