Natasha Dartigue Named Next Maryland Public Defender
Natasha Dartigue was selected as Maryland’s next top public defender on Thursday.
“Ms. Dartigue has a combination of impressive qualifications, vision, and experience, and the Board is excited to have her lead this agency,” T. Wray McCurdy, chairman of the Office of the Public Defender’s Board of Trustees, said in a statement. “She has shown leadership ability both inside the courtroom and in the greater community.”
Dartigue, currently the acting district public defender for Baltimore, will replace Paul B. DeWolfe Jr. as the public defender for Maryland. She has been with the office for 26 years.
Dartgiue received her law degree from Howard University School of Law in 1995 and worked on the Howard Law Journal. She has served in many capacities during her time with the Office of the Public Defender, including the juvenile, district and circuit court arms of the Baltimore office, as a felony trial supervisor and as Baltimore City’s deputy district public defender.
“I am honored to lead the Office of the Public Defender in the next chapter of its history,” she said in a statement.
Prior to her tenure with the Office of the Public Defender, Dartgiue was a clerk for late Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Roger W. Brown. She is a former president of the Monumental City Bar Association and a past co-chair of the Bench Bar Committee of the Bar Association of Baltimore City.
Dartigue currently serves as a member of the Board of Governors for the Maryland Bar Association, is a board member at the Baltimore Bar Foundation, a member of the Alliance of Black Women Attorneys and an executive mentor for Innovation Works.
Dartigue has received several recognitions for her work, including service awards through the Office of the Public Defender and the National Association of Public Defense and the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks. She was named Government Lawyer of the Year by the Bar Association of Baltimore City in 2018 — the same year that she was recognized by The Daily Record as one of the top 100 women in the state.
Dartigue will step in as the new head of the agency when DeWolfe retires on July 1. He has been the state’s top public defender since 2009 and has been a defense lawyer for most of his career. He first joined the Montgomery County Public Defender’s office in 1980.
The Office of the Public Defender is overseen by a 13-member Board of Trustees, which appoints the top public defender. The governor appoints 11 members of the board, who are confirmed by the state Senate. Maryland’s House of Delegates speaker and Senate president each appoint a member of the board.
“Our core staff and attorneys embody the passion, dedication, expertise, and endurance required to provide superior representation for our clients,” Dartigue said in a statement. “Together we will continue to create meaningful criminal justice reform!”
AFSCME Workers Council 3, which represents workers at the public defender’s office, expressed cautious optimism about Dartigue’s appointment.
“We anticipate this appointment will usher in a new era for public defense in Maryland, and we are looking forward to working closely with this new administration on the issues that affect both the clients and the employees of the Office of the Public Defender,” the union said in a statement. “It is our hope that once Ms. Dartigue gets settled in, she will meet with members of MDU so that we may discuss the serious problems that have plagued our office and brainstorm solutions together.”