My Latest in Essence Magazine: Why We Can’t Rush to Judgement in the Freddie Gray Case

My Latest in Essence Magazine: Why We Can’t Rush to Judgement in the Freddie Gray Case

This week, Essence.com published my article on the Freddie Gray case, discussing the issues in Baltimore from a prosecutor’s point of view.  With the announcement that the Department of Justice will be investigating the Baltimore Police Department’s practices, it is more critical than ever that we watch, listen, and see what the evidence says.

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Fairness. Justice. Equality under the law.  

As African-Americans, these are words that we believe in; desperately fought for, marched for and worked hard to have applied to us. With the turbulent times we have seen in the last year, have we gotten to the point where we believe that there is no way the criminal justice system can work for us? Are we rushing to judgment? Are we doing the same thing that we accuse the criminal justice system of doing?

Read the rest here.

Legal Divas of Color: Loretta Lynch

Legal Divas of Color: Loretta Lynch

Every Black History Month, I do a series featuring Legal Divas of Color.  Last year, I focused more on the original trailblazers in the legal field, such as Jane Bolin, Charlotte E. Ray, and Gwen S. Cherry.  This year, I will focus on 21st century African American women, who are movers shakers, and laying the groundwork for a new generation of legal divas!!

It is only fitting that I begin with the Legal Diva whose name is at the forefront of the news at present: Loretta Lynch.

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On November 8, 2014, President Obama nominated Ms. Lynch to succeed Eric Holder as Attorney General of the United States.  This is the top legal position in America.  Not only does the Attorney General advise the President, but the Attorney General sets the policy and the tone for all prosecutions that occur in the federal system. However, being nominated is step one; surviving the Senate is the big hurdle.  At present, Loretta Lynch is going through her confirmation hearing in front of the Senate, where the Senators grill her on her beliefs, what kind of Attorney General she would be, and what policies she will enforce.

But who is Loretta Lynch?

Her path was a very straightforward one. She was born in Greensboro, North Carolina on May 21, 1959. The grandchild of sharecroppers, and the daughter of a schoolteacher and a minister, Ms. Lynch knew the value of hard work early.  She also learned the importance of justice; she attended civil rights rallies as a child, and sat front row to history being made. Academically, Ms. Lynch excelled.  She was valedictorian of her high school class, and received her undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard.

Upon graduation, Ms. Lynch joined a firm, then became an Assistant US Attorney (federal prosecutor) for the Eastern District of New York in 1990. The Eastern District of New York includes Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and parts of Long Island.  In 1999, then President Bill Clinton nominated her to become the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, making her the head of that office. She left the office to join a firm in 2001, returning in 2010 when President Obama nominated her to the position again.

Loretta Lynch has prosecuted more terrorism cases than any of her counterparts. She has successfully prosecuted politicians for corruption (both Democrat and Republican), and prosecuted the police officers who brutalized Abner Louima in 1997. She has also met with the family of Eric Garner after his chokehold death during a police encounter in 2014 to discuss the viability of a federal prosecution. And, she has prosecuted banks for fraud, obtaining million dollar settlements.

On a personal note, I met Ms. Lynch two years ago. She has an air of grace, a quiet strength, and resolve that is really cool to behold.  She is very understated, which certainly why her opponents underestimate her. Ms. Lynch inspired and continues to inspire me to blaze my own trail.

Thank you Loretta Lynch, for being an inspiring Legal Diva!!

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PS if you want to voice your support for Loretta Lynch, call your Senator at 202-224-3121 and urge him/her to vote to confirm her. The National Black Prosecutors Association (of which I am President) stands with many bipartisan organizations that support Ms. Lynch.

M.