Brown vows to focus on justice as he takes office as Maryland's first black Attorney General -- Maryland Matters (2023)

Brown vows to focus on justice as he takes office as Maryland's first black Attorney General -- Maryland Matters (1)

Former US Representative Anthony Brown made history Tuesday when he was sworn in as Maryland's 47th attorney general. He is the first black man in this position.

A few hundred people packed a dedication ceremony in the hall of the Annapolis House of Delegates. The hour-long show not only highlighted Brown's qualifications, but also the symbolism that his election represents.

"This is significant," said Maryland attorney Erek Barron (D), who is also a former state marshal. "It tells all of us in Maryland and beyond that we are at least moving toward that goal of fairness, equality, and justice."

Brown vows to focus on justice as he takes office as Maryland's first black Attorney General -- Maryland Matters (2)

Lilly Brown looks on Tuesday during a swearing-in ceremony for her son Anthony Brown as Maryland's 47th Attorney General. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

In remarks at the ceremony, Brown, a former lieutenant governor, outlined what he called an "ambitious agenda" centered on three priorities: civil rights enforcement, public safety and police reform.

Although Maryland is the fourth largest state in the country, with dozens of languages ​​spoken, racial discrimination still exists at home and in the workplace, according to Brown.

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To counter this, he will seek legislative powers from Governor-elect Wes Moore's administration and the General Assembly to enforce civil rights laws at the federal and state levels.

In an interview with reporters Tuesday after the ceremony, Brown said attorneys general in some states, like California and New York, and even the District of Columbia, have the power to enforce civil rights.

Although Maryland has a Civil Rights Commission that handles individual complaints and grievances, Brown said the commission does not have the authority to bring class actions.

"So we're looking at the authority to bring up the cases that I think have the biggest impact, involving classes of people," he said.

As for police reform, he wants to double the number of investigators and prosecutors in the office's organized crime division. At the same time, Brown said that he will work with the governor, legislators and community leaders to reduce recidivism due to "excessive incarceration of Black and Latino youth."

Third and last, Brown said he will look to increase efforts to keep communities safe by upholding ethical policing standards.

"We can and will do both," he said.

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Brown also plans to keep intact certain policies left behind by retired Attorney General Brian Frosh (D), such as those targeting companies "that exploit workers and vulnerable adults," including cigarette manufacturers, predatory lenders and slum owners. .

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A new unit within the attorney general's office that Brown inherited is the Division of Independent Investigations, created by earlier state police reform legislation. frost releaseda reportin November, which showed the new unit was investigating 23 police-involved deaths over the past year.

Despite all the changes his administration will bring, Brown said a key goal will be etched into agency policy: fairness.

To help with this, he created the newly created Office of Equity, Policy and Management to seek legal advice on whether policy outcomes are fair.

“When we take enforcement action, whether it's consumer protection, antitrust, values ​​[or] civil rights, let's make sure we do it through an equity lens,” Brown said in a brief interview after the ceremony. .

other priorities

Brown also listed other priorities, such as strengthening environmental justice efforts and increasing salaries and resources for the office, which is home to more than 800 attorneys who prosecute and prosecute cases, and provide legal advice to agencies across state government.

Brown vows to focus on justice as he takes office as Maryland's first black Attorney General -- Maryland Matters (3)

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) speaks in the final moments of his term in Annapolis on Tuesday. He called the attorney general's office "the largest and most important law firm in the country." Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

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“The lawyers and legal professionals of the Federal Public Ministry are second to none. They are the best and can work anywhere. They have chosen to serve and represent the state and work for the people of Maryland," Brown said. "...And I thank each and every one of them. And I promise today to do everything I can to guide them as we do the work that matters to the people." .

Brown gave a nod to House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) and Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) as he mentioned he is looking to increase funding when the General Assembly adjourns. meet on January 11. "Next week. I'll be here. Wait," Brown laughed.

As Attorney General, Brown said he is also trying to facilitate the expungement of records for defendants in some cannabis-related crimes and provide a fair share of the cannabis industry as the state prepares for legalization later this year. year.

“I think it just shows how much we agree on this issue,” said Del. Jheanelle Wilkins (D-Montgomery County), Chair of the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, following up on Brown's comments. “This was a clear priority [of] the Black Bank Legislature to ensure property licensing and also expansion of purges. The fact that she has already outlined these issues in his first speech as Attorney General shows how much we agree. We are looking forward to working with him."

Brown's ceremony was attended by current and former elected officials from across the state, including Prince George's attorney Aisha Braveboy (D), Harford County Executive Robert Cassilly (R), and former Attorney General Doug Gansler (D ), who served from 2007 to 2015 and was defeated by Brown in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Governor Larry Hogan (R), who defeated Brown in the 2014 gubernatorial general election, swore Brown in office Tuesday.

"I wouldn't be taking the oath today if it wasn't for you eight years ago," Brown joked.

Hogan left the ceremony early to attend the swearing in of his daughter, Jaymi Sterling, as the new St.

Brown vows to focus on justice as he takes office as Maryland's first black Attorney General -- Maryland Matters (4)

Maryland Treasurer Dereck Davis (R), Lieutenant Governor-elect Aruna Miller (D), Comptroller-elect Brooke Lierman (D) and Governor-elect Wes Moore (D) applaud during an induction ceremony Tuesday for Attorney General Anthony Brown (D). Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

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Also in attendance were several powerful Maryland politicians, including attorney Tim Maloney, a former member of the House of Delegates; Larry Gibson, law professor and political godfather to many current and former elected officials; John McDonough, former Maryland Secretary of State and longtime ruler of Prince George's County; and Amanda LaForge, a former federal employee who will become Moore's general counsel.

Brown's two congressional chiefs of staff, Maia Estes and Matthew Verghese, who worked for him in the lieutenant governor's office, also attended. So did several registered House lobbyists, including Bruce Berean, Bill Frick, Lisa Harris Jones, and Paul Tiburzi.

Some advocates have already offered advice to Brown, such as the Silver Spring Justice Coalition in Montgomery County.

Joanna Silver, co-chair of the coalition's policy committee, said in an email that the report from the attorney general's Division of Independent Investigations shows that more policy changes are needed in decisions about prosecutions, surveillance and the use of force.

“We look forward to working with the new attorney general to advance these much-needed reforms,” he said. “We also hope that the Attorney Generaluse the powers of your office to ensure the effective implementation of police reform legislation already in place and to resist attempts to undermine reform through litigation, laws or regulations.

Josh Kurtz and Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this article.


1. Watch: Full Jan. 6 Committee Hearing - Day 7
2. 7News Maryland Primary Election Special 2022
(ABC 7 News - WJLA)
3. Swearing-In Ceremony of Attorney General
(MGA - Session - House)
4. United We Stand Summit
(The White House)
5. Maryland Attorney General Forum--Democratic Candidates, May 25, 2022
(UBalt PublicAffairs)
6. Sherrilyn Ifill | Radcliffe Medal Ceremony | Radcliffe Day 2022
(Harvard Radcliffe Institute)


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