Address by Anne Colt Leitess upon being sworn in as State’s Attorney for Anne Arundel County, Maryland Ceremonial Courtroom Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County June 11, 2013
Thank you, Mr. Duckworth. Judges of the Circuit Court and District Court, Masters in Chancery, colleagues at the State’s Attorney’s Office, fellow members of the bar, friends and family ‐ In 1975, Master Erica Wolfe applied to the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office to be an assistant state’s attorney. She was rebuffed and informed that, “they already had a woman there.” Undaunted, when she heard that the office extended an offer to a male friend who intended to decline it, Ms. Wolfe decided that she would accompany him to the office when he turned down the offer in person. As her friend politely declined the position, she stood in the doorway and announced that since they had an opening and her friend wasn’t taking the job, they should give it to her. They did. This story illustrates the obvious – that women have come a long way in Anne Arundel County. And it also reminded me of a quote by author Nora Roberts: If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place. In applying for the position of State’s Attorney, I did all three of those things. I cannot help but think about the many great women attorneys, masters and judges in Anne Arundel County who stood in the doorway, asked for what they wanted and moved forward and upward. They paved the way for me to be standing in front of you today. They were, and still are, my role models and mentors. Many of them are here in the courtroom with me today. I think of the many men who accepted me as an equal and extended their hands, held the door open so that I could walk through it, encouraged me along the way. I am grateful for their acknowledgment that a strong female attorney is an asset and not a liability. This county needs a strong State’s Attorney who is not afraid to do the right thing, no matter how difficult that may be. Whether it is vigorously prosecuting a crime, or refusing to proceed on a case where there is insufficient evidence or evidence that seriously calls into question the guilt of the defendant, I am that person. I have done all those things.
I am humbled and honored to be appointed the chief law enforcement officer of this county. This public service position must be entrusted to a person who has demonstrated a high degree of competence in the courtroom as well as leadership and service to the community. I thank the Circuit Court bench for its vote of confidence. I will care for this office. I thank my mother, Joanne Colt, who sacrificed much to put her only child through college and law school, and has been a source of great love and support. To my wonderful sons, Joe, Sam and Jack – sitting across the courtroom from me now – you have offered me the best training a person could ever get in preparing for my future role dealing with smart and sometimes difficult people in this profession. I am lucky to be your mom, and proud of the bright, ambitious and honorable young men you have become. Thank you to my father‐in‐law and mother‐in‐law, Earl and Judy Leitess, who always treated me like their own daughter and are thrilled that they can now say to their friends, “My daughter‐in‐law Anne, the State’s Attorney for Anne Arundel County!” Thank you to my sister, Colleen Colt Ionata and my brother‐in‐law Peter Ionata and nieces Caroline, Natalie and nephew Anthony, for always being supportive and loving. I am happy you are here to share this moment with me. And, thank you to my wonderful husband, Steve Leitess, who long ago had the brilliant idea that it would be great to live and work in Annapolis. While attending the Annual State’s Attorney’s Conference in Ocean City 23 years ago next week, Steve wrangled job interviews for both of us with this office. We both were hired. Thank you for believing in me more than I sometimes do myself. None of this would be possible without you. Finally, thank you, dear friends. You encouraged me to stand in the doorway. You stood behind me when I knocked. And now you walk beside me as I take on the challenge of the Office of the State’s Attorney for Anne Arundel County. There is a lot of work to do. Thank you all so very much.