Maryland Attorney General-elect Anthony Brown: Q&A

Maryland Attorney General-elect Anthony Brown: Q&A
Maryland Attorney General-elect Anthony Brown: Q&A

Anthony Brown will take office as attorney general of Maryland this week with the intention of asking lawmakers for additional resources as well as the power to enforce civil rights laws and conduct investigations aimed at addressing systemic problems in the law enforcement.

In November, Brown, a Democrat, handily beat Michael Peroutka, a Republican who served on Anne Arundel County Council from 2014 to 2018 and once belonged to the Southern League. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the organization as a hate group that espouses neo-Confederate ideology.

Brown will be the first black person to serve as attorney general, the state’s chief legal officer.

Since 2017, Brown has represented Maryland’s 4th congressional district, which includes parts of Anne Arundel and Prince George counties. He was lieutenant governor from 2007 to 2015 and a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1999 to 2007.

The Baltimore Banner spoke with Brown, 61, of Prince George’s County about his plans and priorities before he is sworn in Tuesday as Maryland’s 47th attorney general. the The following questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity:

The Banner: What are your top priorities and what do you hope to accomplish in your first 100 days in office?

Anthony Brown: Eight days after being sworn in, I will be in Annapolis to spend a lot of time with the legislature. So there are four priorities — two of them are kind of credits, and two of them are authorizations.

On the authorization side, I seek to establish a civil rights enforcement authority for the Office of the Attorney General. I think it’s time now for the Attorney General to have the power to bring class actions, to bring multi-state or multi-jurisdictional actions to protect the rights of the people of Maryland.

The second is to establish the power to carry out systematic or practical investigations into police misconduct. Today, this work is done in Maryland exclusively by the Department of Justice. And as you probably know, the city of Baltimore is under a consent decree with the Department of Justice. With pattern or practice investigations, the intentions are that when there are signs of repeat misconduct, to go and find out what the root causes are. Is it training? Does it recruit? Is it leadership? What creates the culture where you see repeated mistakes?

On the credit side, I want to adopt an alternative salary grid for the lawyers in my firm. They do a great job. They’ve had it for years. And we can’t just praise them for their good work and expect to be able to recruit and retain the best. It’s time to raise wages. We will therefore be proposing a salary grid that will result in salary increases for the lawyers in the office. And then we will work to increase the salaries of non-lawyer staff as well.

I will ask the General Assembly to double the size of my organized crime unit. I have 12 lawyers. I want to go to 24.

Subscribe to alerts

Be aware of needs to know
info from The Banner

Throughout the time that I have been part of this campaign by visiting communities across the state, the question has always been asked, “What are you going to do as Attorney General to make me feel safer in my home and in my community? And while there’s no easy or simple solution, I think part of that is my ability to increase investigations and prosecutions where I have the power to do so, and that is in the area of ​​organized crime.

But I also know that improving public safety is about more than investigations and prosecutions. So I will be working with the General Assembly on efforts to reduce recidivism and certainly eliminate disparities in the over-incarceration of black people, especially young black and brown males, by working on things like hate crimes and regulations on gun safety.

So there’s a lot that goes to the public safety effort. But one of my priorities for the office will be to secure additional resources for the investigation and prosecution of organized crime.

Your predecessor, Brian Frosh, often spoke of the office’s lack of resources. Do you think you’ll be able to get the budget you’re looking for with an executive and legislative branch now under Democratic control?

Oh, I think so. I think there is a kind of ideological difference between conservatives and progressives when it comes to the role and resources of government. And I think you’ve seen over the last eight years, there’s been an underinvestment by Governor Hogan in state government.

The 2021 legislature created the Independent Investigations Division to review “all suspected or potential civilian deaths involving the police.” Lawmakers are considering giving the power to prosecute these cases to the attorney general. What is your position on this proposal?

As for the power to sue, I think it’s the natural evolution or progression of that power. When you talk to most prosecutors, they would prefer to conduct their own investigation. How they conduct this investigation will determine how they present their case – whether it should be tried, whether it should be prosecuted in front of a jury.

So I think it’s important that the Attorney General have that power.

What I’m open to — and I think it’s worth discussing, and I talked about this on the campaign trail — is whether or not you give the local state attorney the right of first refusal.

I support the extension of the power to prosecute. I am open to the right of first refusal to local state attorneys. And I’m going to work with the General Assembly to make sure we get something done.

Are you determined to fight for the release of the grand jury report in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and do you intend to investigate the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington?

Let me start by saying that I intend to continue to pursue all investigations, enforcement, prosecutions and other matters that have been initiated by Attorney General Frosh and his assistant attorneys general. I have no intention of taking office on January 3 and stopping anything.

They are professional lawyers, professional investigators; it is a group of professionals whose work, I will say, does not need to be questioned.

Regarding the second part of your question, I have not read the survey. I’ve looked at a lot of documents — I’ve looked at a lot of documents during this transition — but I haven’t looked at any documents or any information about it.

So until I have the opportunity to review an investigation and speak with my leadership team, it’s really difficult, if not impossible, for me to say whether I would investigate beyond the Archdiocese from Baltimore. I need the opportunity to review the report and then be able to make a decision from there.

Maryland law requires people who were victims of childhood sexual abuse to file a complaint by age 38 or within three years of the perpetrator’s criminal conviction. Do you support efforts to create a so-called “look-back window” that would allow survivors who are currently not allowed to sue, or do you believe such a measure is unconstitutional?

I have always supported an expansive statute of limitations to provide, especially in these child sexual abuse cases, the opportunity to have their day in court – given the circumstances, the hardships, the challenges that these victims are confronted.

I believe the Legislature will look to the Attorney General’s Office for our advice, both in a formal notice on the look-back window – if it hasn’t already been provided in previous sessions – and I’m sure that ‘they will ask about my opinion, professional and even personal.

I will go back and see if there was a retroactivity provision in what I voted on almost 20 years ago now before I answer definitively if I will support a look-back period. Because I don’t want to be inconsistent with a position that I take without having to think about it to be able to articulate why I might have changed or if I’m consistent.

For the past eight years, Maryland has had an attorney general and a governor who are members of different political parties. That will change when Wes Moore is sworn in as governor on January 18. How do you envision the relationship between you and Governor Moore?

I think it’s going to be a strong relationship. I think it’s going to be a close relationship.

I met Governor-elect Moore through his wife, Dawn, who worked for me. She was my campaign manager when I was running for lieutenant governor. And, actually, when I asked Dawn to be my campaign manager, I was running for Attorney General 16 years ago. And then early in this campaign, before Joe Curran, who was incumbent at the time, announced his retirement, Martin O’Malley asked me to join him as lieutenant governor. And I did. And Dawn stayed with me during this campaign as well.

I think it’s going to be a solid relationship. We probably text or talk every 10 days now. We saw each other almost daily during the election campaign. We constantly check in with each other. He was committed to the work of the Attorney General’s Office, recognizing that the state deserves quality legal representation and that the people of Maryland deserve an Attorney General who supports them.

And so I think it’s going to be a very close relationship. And I worked with many people that he announced in his management team.

Is there anything else you think is important to mention that we haven’t discussed?

As lawyers, I believe we have a duty – a professional and ethical duty – not only to advise our clients on the law, but for them to consider factors related to fairness, social factors and factors morals. And does the advice we give them tend to promote a fairer outcome in the decisions our clients make? Whether it’s the regulations or the enactment of the contracts they award, the actions they take. Does it promote fairness, equity and justice as we treat everyone fairly and equitably?

Or does it promote or, say, exacerbate inequalities? So I think that’s an important role and responsibility for the Attorney General.

I am in the process of creating an Office of Equity, Policy and Engagement to ensure that we have the tools in our office to fulfill this responsibility.

. Anthony Brown Attorney General Elect Maryland QuestionsAnswers

. Maryland Attorney Generalelect Anthony Brown

PREV Chief Justice John Roberts concerned about judges’ safety
NEXT Kim Jong Un promises nuclear will take on US and South Korea