[Baltimore Sun] Dayhoff: Tom Hickman, ex-Carroll County State’s Attorney, was ‘a pillar of the community’

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Former State’s Attorney Col. Tom Hickman, 77, of Westminster died January 27, 2024. He was a highly respected attorney and public servant, who dedicated his life to serving Carroll County as State’s Attorney and overseas as an International Prosecutor and expert advisor, trying cases before over 100 judges from 25 countries as an employee of NATO, the United Nations, United States Department of State, and the U.S. military. (Courtesy Lucking-Hickman family)

The news spread quickly over the weekend of Jan. 27th that former Carroll County State’s Attorney Col. Tom Hickman had passed away.

According to his obituary, written by his daughter Jessica L. Lucking, Hickman “was a highly respected attorney and public servant, who dedicated his life to upholding justice at home in Carroll County as State’s Attorney and overseas as an International Prosecutor and expert advisor, trying cases before over 100 judges from 25 countries as an employee of NATO, the United Nations, United States Department of State, and the U.S. military.”

History will reflect that Hickman was among a long list of distinguished leaders who have served Carroll County as the state’s attorney.

“Tom Hickman was a pillar of the community, plain and simple,” Carroll County State’s Attorney Haven Shoemaker said in an email interview after Hickman’s funeral. “He dedicated a substantial part of his life to service – both in the military and as Carroll County State’s Attorney for five terms. I was privileged to count him as a friend, mentor, and supporter. They don’t make ‘em like Tom Hickman anymore. He will be missed.”

Lucking explained that Hickman served as an Army infantry officer for eight years before joining the Air National Guard’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps where he served for 22 years, retiring with the rank of colonel. Over the course of his military career, he was deployed to England, Italy, Germany and Bosnia.

Becoming a JAG Corps attorney is no easy accomplishment. According to the Air Force website, JAG officers are an “elite group of law professionals” who provide legal services to the U.S. Air Force. “The JAG application process is competitive, rigorous and highly selective.”

“In 1996, Tom served as a NATO Legal Advisor in the Office of the High Representative in Sarajevo,” according to Lucking. In 2001 Hickman “became a United Nations International Prosecutor in Kosovo where he served for 6 years, achieving 30 convictions including in 3 war crimes trials.”

Hickman, “continued his overseas service with the United States Department of State as Senior Justice Advisor in Anti-Corruption to the Attorney General of Afghanistan in Kabul in 2009 where he mentored the prosecutor and Afghanistan Attorney General.

“He later served as a Review Panel Member on the Independent Judicial and Prosecutorial Commission of Kosovo which was created by the US and EU to hear appeals by Kosovo justices.

“He returned to Afghanistan in 2010 to serve as a United Nations Strategic Advisor Prosecutor in Law Enforcement for the High Office of Oversight & Anti-Corruption to the Afghanistan Anti-Corruption Agency where he provided advice, mentoring, and training.”

According to a eulogy written by Jessica Lucking and eloquently delivered by her husband, Grant Lucking, at Hickman’s funeral service last Sunday; Hickman “would share many anecdotes that kept him confident he was on the right path and luck was on his side. A cargo plane … when his team in Afghanistan was under attack, and evacuating, lifted him to safety. … He felt divine timing was on his side and he did not ever take it for granted.”

Hickman attended the Virginia Military Institute and went on to earn his law degree at the University of Baltimore. He later taught a course at McDaniel College on police, courts and corrections.

A celebration of life was held in honor of Hickman at Fletcher Funeral Home on Feb. 18. It was well attended by friends, a large extended family of cousins who traveled extensively to honor Hickman, and many folks who served with Hickman over the years. Shoemaker was there, as well as Carroll County Circuit Judge Fred S. Hecker, and Hickman’s longstanding friend and law partner Ed Ulsch. Matt Cole was there. Cole is the co-owner of Molli’s restaurant, located next to Hickman’s office – where many of us had the pleasure of eating lunch with Hickman, a consummate storyteller and a great friend.

Indeed, Hickman’s untimely death is the epitome of an old African proverb made famous by the great Malian writer, historian and ethnologist, Amadou Hampâté Bâ, who said, and I am paraphrasing:  “Quand un aîné meurt, une bibliothèque brûle entièrement.” Or, “When an Elder dies, a library burns to the ground.”

Hickman’s service was officiated by Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor Melissa Helfer; who spoke for many when she observed that when she read “Tom’s obituary a verse from the book of Micah began to run through my mind.  ‘He has told you, O mortal, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?’

“Tom’s life was marked and driven by this calling to work for justice. Here in Carroll County and throughout the world. And now it is Tom’s time to rest, to hear his God proclaim, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”

Hickman was buried with full military honors at the Westminster Cemetery, and Lucking asked that memorial contributions be made to the Community Foundation of Carroll County, “To support the County he loved.”

May God Bless Tom Hickman – he will be terribly missed by the Carroll County he served, and the world in which he made a huge difference. May God have mercy on his soul. Amen.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at [email protected]

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