Over the weekend, MD Public Defender Paul DeWolfe sent an email to all Office of Public Defender (OPD) staff members across the state using state government email servers. DeWolfe insists the email wasn’t “anti-Trump” but one Republican state senator calls it “inflammatory rhetoric.”
In his email, DeWolfe mentioned that, “Many of us are still in shock and despair over the [election] results.”
He then talks about the election of Nixon and Republicans in 1968 that he claims “resulted in the reversal of so many of the progressive reforms brought about by the struggles of the Civil Rights movement.”
After detailing the things that he said Nixon was responsible for rolling back, DeWolfe then said, “Believe it or not, this election seems worse to me than even the election of 1968.”
After saying that it is time to “get angry and fight back”, he discusses Trump policies including stop and frisk, “mass deportation” of illegal immigrants, and issues related to incarceration and policing.
DeWolfe also has a three-point call to action for his staff that involves them joining his volunteer immigration team, joining the fight for bail and pretrial reform, and becoming “active in the fight against the anticipated wave of bigotry and repression against our minority, immigrant and LGBTQ clients.”
Here’s a screenshot of the DeWolfe email:
Yesterday, I sent a request for comment to OPD and pointed out that the message could be considered an anti-Trump email. I received the following statement from Paul DeWolfe:
Communicating with staff about significant national and local issues relevant to criminal defense practice is an important priority of mine. Consistent with reactions across the country, many OPD staff have expressed concern regarding how the election will impact our clients and our work. The email message was not anti-Trump but responsive to threats made on constitutional rights that will directly impact the people we represen
After being contacted for a comment, Republican State Senator Justin Ready had strong words for the email sent to OPD staff by DeWolfe:
I think using taxpayer funded resources to send inflammatory material is questionable to say the least. It’s wrong to accuse people who voted for Trump or Trump himself of wanting to roll back the clock on civil rights. That’s an outrageous charge. The OPD performs an important public service ensuring that anyone accused of a crime can have legal representation. However, its irresponsible to be engaging in this kind of rhetoric. It’s wrong and it’s untrue.
More on MD Public Defender Paul DeWolfe
DeWolfe was named MD Public Defender in late 2009 after his predecessor was terminated. He was previously Montgomery County Public Defender. He was reappointed earlier this year. In an interview in July, he discussed his office’s work to free people arrested during the Baltimore riots of 2015.
The MD Public Defender is hired by a 13 member Board of trustees. 11 members of that board are appointed by the Governor and one each by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. Good luck finding the membership of the board on the OPD website (or anywhere else online), it’s not there. I even looked in PDFs of their annual reports and in legislative audits.
Speaking of legislative audits – according to a story in The Daily Record in August 2014:
The Office of the Public Defender failed to ensure clients were financially eligible, and the agency failed to submit invoices to the state comptroller for timely payment, according to an audit released Thursday by the Office of Legislative Audits.
Be sure to read the entire audit online from the Office of Legislative Audits for further details.
Maryland State Board of Elections databases show DeWolfe gave money in 2006 to the campaign of Tom Perez. Federal Election Commission databases show no federal contributions given by Paul B. DeWolfe of Maryland.
More from his bio:
A Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 2005, Mr. DeWolfe is currently on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is a former President of the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association, and a former President of the Bar Association of Montgomery County Maryland. Currently he is Secretary of the Criminal Law Section Council of the Maryland State Bar Association.