For 125 years, MSBA has been the home of the entire legal profession. We continue to serve our members and the public by connecting with important leaders around the state and talking about the issues that matter to our members. Recently, we spoke with candidates for Attorney General, including Katie O’Malley, to hear about her aspirations if elected.
The MSBA is apolitical and does not support any particular candidate but aims to increase awareness of each candidate’s plans for moving our state forward.
O’Malley grew up in a family with a long history of working in public service, which inspired her to practice law and be a public service lawyer. She worked in the State’s Attorney’s office for a decade before becoming a district court judge, a position she has held for the past 20 years. As a state’s attorney, she helped investigate crimes and prosecute hundreds of cases in front of judges and juries. She believes the Attorney General needs to have a legal background and experience working as a trial lawyer to properly advise and instruct Assistant Attorney Generals through all the stages of litigation.
O’Malley sees the focus of the Attorney General as protecting Marylanders, whether it’s through criminal justice, or environmental or consumer protection, serving the interest of the state at every level of government.
O’Malley believes the Attorney General’s office has a large role to play regarding crime and dealing with violence across the state, and curbing violent crimes and gun violence would be a big priority for her if she is elected. She would also strive for increased transparency and accountability for law enforcement. Currently, the Attorney General can conduct independent investigations to determine whether a police officer overstepped their bounds and committed a crime, but they don’t have the authority to prosecute those cases. O’Malley thinks they should have the right to prosecute police officers when they feel it is necessary.
The conversation then moved to redistricting. O’Malley does not believe the legislative redistricting map created by the legislators is unconstitutional, and she is hopeful that it will survive the constitutional questions that are being brought up by its opponents. She noted that regardless of whether the Attorney General disagrees with the Governor on an issue, it is their job to advise the Governor based on what the law says and what is best for Marylanders, and she vowed to do that.
In O’Malley’s opinion, the environment is a big issue for the Attorney General as well. A blueprint was created to get the Chesapeake Bay back to where it should be, and she thinks that we need to make sure that we’re on track with what that blueprint was supposed to be doing; right now, we are not. As Attorney General, she would like to publicly track the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in the bay and the number of dead zones and publish quarterly updates.
If elected to serve as Attorney General, O’Malley would want to retain and attract the best and the brightest lawyers, start intern programs in Maryland’s law schools to get students interested in working for the Office of the Attorney General, and make sure that deputies working in the office have diverse experience. She thinks it is beneficial to have both attorneys who have worked in private practice and attorneys who for the government their entire careers working in the Office. She also thinks it is useful that the Assistant Attorney Generals realize that they have clients: Marylanders. Every action that the Office pursues is to further the interests of the people of our state.
In O’Malley’s career as a trial judge, she has seen the negative impacts a person can face when they come to court without counsel and how greatly the lack of representation disadvantages people when it comes to access to justice. She would strongly advocate for people to have counsel during eviction proceedings and in protective order hearings.
O’Malley thinks the legalization of recreational marijuana use will significantly reduce violent crime, but we have to do it in an intelligent way, especially with regard to business licensing and regulation. We need to make sure that the licensing and the taxation of it all goes to help those people who have been disproportionately affected by the marijuana laws in our state. She thinks the legalization of recreational use it’s an important step for many reasons, and she hopes it passes.
Violent crime is a significant issue in Maryland and Baltimore City specifically, and if elected, O’Malley will collaborate with different stakeholders to fight crime. She thinks Maryland needs a leader who has built cases with investigators and worked with attorneys to lead the organized crime division. O’Malley says she can do this on day one because of her experience working on such issues as a prosecutor for a decade and then as a trial judge for 20 years.
You can view the entire conversation with O’Malley and all the Attorney General candidates who spoke with the MSBA here.