The Harford County Department of Law serves as general counsel to the County Executive and the Departments, Commissions and Boards appointed by the County Executive. The Department of Law represents the County and County officials and employees sued in their official capacity.
The objectives of the Department of Law are:
(1) To provide more efficient representation to Executive Branch agencies and departments than otherwise would be provided by outside legal counsel by having attorneys assigned to specific agencies and departments who:
(a) Stay abreast of legal developments impacting such agencies and departments;
(b) Develop a personal relationship and trust with managerial staff;
(c) Communicate as needed with managerial staff to promptly address legal issues; and
(2) To provide less costly legal representation to Executive Branch agencies and departments of the County than would be provided by outside legal counsel.
Some legal specialty services, such as bond counsel, are provided by outside legal counsel. The Department of Law attorneys and staff work cooperatively with outside counsel to provide information in a format readily usable by outside counsel in order to minimize the billing required to obtain outside legal services.
Sheriff - Sheriff’s Office:
The Sheriff, a State constitutional officer, and the Sheriff’s Office, a State office, are generally represented by the Office of the Attorney General. However, pursuant to State law, the Department of Law provides legal representation on all claims against the Sheriff and deputies arising from the provision of law enforcement or correctional services. The Department of Law endeavors to work cooperatively with Sheriff’s Office staff to review policy and practices and provide risk management/incident review, workers compensation, and related advice and counsel.
The Maryland Local Government Tort Claims Act requires notice to be provided of claims against the County and County officials and employees to the County Attorney. See Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 5-301 et seq.
The Department of Law will accept service of complaints filed against the County as a body corporate and politic.
The Department of Law will accept otherwise legally sufficient service made per the applicable rules of civil procedure of complaints filed against current County officials and employees sued individually for services undertaken without malice or gross negligence that are within the scope of such official’s or employee’s duties.
Risk Management Division:
Chris Behles is the County Risk Manager. He is the chief of the Risk Management Division of the Department of Law. The Risk Management Division:
(1) Reviews and investigates all accidents and incidents involving County officials & employees and personal injury or property damage claims;
(2) Develops and provides safety training, adjusting such training based on actual accidents and events;
(3) Develops loss control programs;
(4) Manages MOSH, OSHA employee occupational health and safety compliance;
(5) Procures and manages all insurance programs and Self-Insurance Fund expenditures; and
(6) Initiates subrogation claims against third parties.