While conducting my end of day checks of courtrooms late Tuesday afternoon, I suddenly heard thunderous applause coming from Courtroom A, the ceremonial courtroom at the courthouse. My interest aroused, I just had to investigate.
|Montgomery County Courthouse/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.|
Officials invited me to peek in.
Turns out newly-elected Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele was holding court, so-to-speak, proudly, passionately and warmly addressing his entire staff of prosecutors and detectives and some members of the law enforcement community, during what felt a bit like a pep rally. A few county officials and judges also were present at the informal gathering.
“It’s important for us to do this together, to dedicate to this together,” Steele urged the 150 or so staffers who packed the ceremonial courtroom. “The people of our community expect a lot from us. They expect us to be ministers of justice. I expect a lot from all of you.
“I’m not going to be easy on you but I will have your backs because we’re all in this together,” added Steele, telling all those in attendance that he looks forward to working with them. “We have an incredible opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.”
|Montgomery County DA Kevin R. Steele|
Steele, the Lower Merion Democrat who won the post in November’s election after spending eight years as first assistant district attorney, told his staff that being ministers of justice comes with sacrifices.
“There are sacrifices and no one knows that better than my family,” Steele said to the standing-room-only crowd, urging his staff to have courage and to strive to do the right thing.
During the gathering, President Judge William J. Furber Jr. administered oaths of office to the entire staff of prosecutors and county detectives.
“Kevin, I wish you all the best as you go forward with this most important endeavor,” Furber said as the event came to a close.
Quoting from the “Star Wars” film he just saw over the weekend, Steele told his prosecutors, “’May the force be with you’ and let’s go do a great job.”
I, and I think everyone else in the room, was secretly wondering if Steele was going to make the “BIG” announcement, that being who he had selected as his first assistant, the second-in-command in his office, the district attorney’s go-to person.
But it was not to be.
And so the mystery continues.
In recent history, incoming county district attorneys have had their first assistants in place on their first day in office. But as of Tuesday, the district attorney’s official letterhead still has only Steele’s name there. Steele appears to be keeping this decision close to the vest for now.
Since the New Year began, I’ve been asked on a daily basis by judges, lawyers and courthouse staff as to whether Steele has named his first assistant. It’s the number one inquiry folks are making as I make my daily rounds in the halls of justice. It’s unbelievable the amount of interest that’s swirling around the courthouse regarding that one decision.
Naturally, rumors abound, and there have been plenty. It’s the best kept secret, that’s for sure.
So, as I posted last week on Twitter, we’re still #WAITING