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Posted November 19, 2012 | comments 3 Comments

Frederick County commonwealth's attorney to retire

Williamson to end 35-year career Jan. 2; Spicer to step into position

By Joe Beck

WINCHESTER -- Commonwealth's Attorney Glenn R. Williamson announced his retirement Monday, ending a 35-year career as a prosecutor in Frederick County.

Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Ross P. Spicer automatically becomes acting commonwealth's attorney upon Williamson's retirement, effective at 5 p.m. Jan. 2. Spicer said his promotion follows state law that requires the deputy to take over upon the retirement of a commonwealth's attorney.

Williamson, 62, said his decision was purely personal and ruled out scandal or ill health as a motive.

"Thirty five years is a long time to do this kind of work," he told a group of well-wishers assembled for the announcement. "It does weigh on you. I leave confident that every decision I've made has been intended to what's right, what's fair, what's just. Simply put,
I've done the best that I could do for as long as I could."

Spicer, 47, said he was honored and humbled to follow in Williamson's footsteps. He said he would run for commonwealth's attorney in a special election that state law requires to be scheduled by a circuit judge.

In a written statement, Williamson said he was endorsing Spicer as his successor, citing his experience as deputy commonwealth's attorney in Portsmouth and as senior assistant in the Winchester commonwealth's attorney office before becoming Frederick County's deputy commonwealth's attorney in January 2008.

"I'm honored to be in this position," Spicer said in an interview. "It's been a lifelong ambition of mine to be a commonwealth's attorney, and I've been blessed by circumstances that allow it to happen."

Spicer said his designation as acting commonwealth's attorney was a "bittersweet" moment for him. While welcoming his new job, he said he will have to resign from the board of supervisors after 11/2 years in accordance with a state law that bans commonwealth's attorneys from serving on such elected bodies.

Williamson explained his decision to retire not long after winning reelection as commonwealth's attorney as a product of the uncertainty hovering over Frederick County's court system while it awaited the appointment of a sitting circuit court judge over many months.

"We were dealing with substitutes," Williamson said, referring to the judges who filled the vacancy temporarily. "I think we had about 15 different judges sit for us. It was unknown when we would get a full-time judge.

"I thought it best to try to provide some continuity and stability under those circumstances. But now we have a full-time sitting judge for Frederick County, and the state of our judiciary is more than stable. It's solid."

Spicer said the arrival of Clifford L. "Clay" Athey as circuit court judge in July means that plea agreements between prosecutors and defense attorneys will have greater predictability, "and that will aid everyone."

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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