Biden Nominates Barron for Maryland U.S. Attorney Post

Del. Erek L. Barron (D-Prince George’s). Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Prince George’s County Del. Erek L. Barron (D) has been nominated by President Biden to be the next U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.

The nomination was made public Monday morning.

Barron, a partner at the law firm of Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLP, has represented District 24 in the House of Delegates since 2015.

He has a relationship with president that includes a stint from 2007 to 2009 as counsel and policy adviser to Biden on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs. Barron was also co-chair of the group Marylanders for Biden, which formed early in the 2020 presidential election campaign.

Barron has also worked as a federal prosecutor in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and as a prosecutor at the Prince George’s County and Baltimore City state’s attorney’s offices.

He was among eight U.S. Attorney nominees around the country announced by the Biden administration on Monday.

“These individuals — many of whom are historic firsts — were chosen for their devotion to enforcing the law, their professionalism, their experience and credentials in this field, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all, and their commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice,” the White House said in a Monday morning statement.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Barron would be the first Black U.S. Attorney in Maryland’s history.

His nomination was lauded Monday morning by Maryland Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D) and Chris Van Hollen (D).

“Maryland needs a U.S. Attorney with integrity and independence, as well as the strength and experience to tackle the unacceptably high level of violent crime in Baltimore City. With Senator Van Hollen, I was proud to recommend Erek Barron for this position as a guardian of the civil rights and civil liberties of all Marylanders,” Cardin said in a statement. “Erek has demonstrated a passion for public service throughout his entire career and he will bring to this position a unique set of professional experiences and skills that will serve Marylanders well. His track record of enacting reforms to the criminal justice system and serving as a federal and state prosecutor … make him well-positioned to take on this lead federal law enforcement role for our state.”

Van Hollen said the senators would work together to get Barron confirmed quickly.

“Our state must have a U.S. attorney who is fiercely committed to delivering equal justice under the law to every Marylander. Erek Barron’s tireless efforts to build a better, fairer justice system in Maryland, his years of experience serving our constituents, and his deep understanding of the challenges we face qualify him as an outstanding nomination for this position,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “Together with Senator Cardin, I was proud to recommend Erek to serve in this role, and I know he will work with us to improve public safety, address gun violence, uphold the City of Baltimore’s consent decree, and strengthen our justice system.”

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D) and Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D) said that if confirmed, Barron would also be the first Prince Georgian in history to hold the position.

“As our nation continues its reckoning with systemic racism, we know that Del. Barron will be an effective partner in this effort. We urge the Senate to confirm Erek Barron swiftly,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

Barron was an author of the Justice Reinvestment Act of 2016, which reformed Maryland’s criminal justice and prison systems.

Barron was nominated to fill the position previously held by U.S. Attorney Robert Hur, who resigned in February 2021 shortly after Biden took office. Jonathan Lenzner has been serving as Acting U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland since that time.

The senators thanked Lenzner for his service on Monday.

“…When Robert Hur retired, Jonathan stepped in seamlessly during the transition,” Cardin and Van Hollen said in a statement. “…Jonathan should be proud of his tireless work to improve the quality of life of Marylanders and uphold the rule of law, consistent with the highest ideals of the U.S. Department of Justice.”

In the legislature, Barron is the current chair of the Prince George’s County House Delegation, and he co-chairs the Joint Committee on Fair Practices and State Personnel Oversight.

He lives in Bowie with his wife and daughter.

Barron’s appointment means his seat will become vacant in the House of Delegates. The Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee will recommend a candidate to fill the seat, though Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) will have the ultimate say on the appointment. Governors almost always accede to the wishes of the central committee.

The central committee is already in the process of setting up a public hearing ahead of filling a vacancy in the 23rd District, where Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters (D) resigned earlier this month to join the University System of Maryland Board of Regents.

Among those who may apply to fill Barron’s vacancy: LaTasha Ward, a businesswoman who ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2018; Christopher Stevenson, a policy analyst with SEIU Local 1199 and a member of the central committee; and Alexis Solis, a clinical research project manager who plans to run for the seat in 2022.

Richard DeShay Elliott, a progressive activist and campaign strategist who is also running for the seat next year, said he does not plan to seek the appointment. Whomever gets appointed to fill Barron’s vacancy could have a leg up in the 2022 Democratic primary, with incumbent Dels. Andrea Fletcher Harrison and Jazz M. Lewis expected to seek re-election.

Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.

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Danielle E. Gaines
Danielle Gaines covered government and politics for Maryland Matters for two years before moving into an editing position. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post ― as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at The Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.