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Attorney General Brown Drives Historic Progress for Equity and Justice as Key Priority Bills Advancing Marylanders’ Civil Rights Are Signed into Law

May 17th, 2023 by WCBC Radio

Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown today announced monumental achievements towards a more fair, just, and equitable Maryland as Governor Wes Moore signed into law a series of landmark bills that provide the Office of the Attorney General new authority to enforce civil rights and prosecute police-involved fatalities, establish the first Maryland Commission on Hate Crime Response and Prevention, and dedicate funding to provide access to counsel for tenants facing eviction.

“My mission is to achieve justice and equity for all Marylanders. These bills signed today provide us greater tools to pursue that mission,” said Attorney General Brown. “These measures will drive Maryland closer to a future where justice accountability.

Senate Bill 540 gives the Attorney General the authority to protect Marylanders from bias and discrimination based on all categories protected under State and federal law: race, color, religion or creed, sex, age, ancestry or national origin, marital status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation and gender identity, genetic information (in employment), and familial status and source of income (in housing). In addition to employment and housing, these rights span a wide range of issues, including public accommodations, business relationships, education, voting, and reproductive rights.

“This legislation provides the tools needed by the Office of the Attorney General to root out discrimination and bring enforcement actions on behalf of Marylanders whose civil rights have been violated,” said Attorney General Brown. “We will actively defend employees' rights, protect renters and homeowners, and ensure access to healthcare, the ballot, public and commercial spaces, and opportunities. No one should suffer discrimination in Maryland.”

Under this new law, the Attorney General will investigate suspected civil rights violations by non-governmental entities. If there is reason to believe a civil rights violation has occurred, the Attorney General may file a lawsuit on behalf of the citizens of Maryland and ask the courts to stop an alleged violator from continuing its discriminatory actions.

Because individuals often do not have the resources to enforce their civil rights, this new law offers a much broader level of protection for Marylanders. While no new civil rights protections were created by the law, the Attorney General will be able to use the resources of his Office to investigate and bring enforcement actions on behalf of Maryland residents facing all kinds of discrimination. Examples of potential actions include:

  • Safeguarding families from being denied housing because they have children.
  • Defending employees’ right to wear headscarves at work.
  • Protecting homebuyers from being denied mortgages because they are purchasing in predominately minority neighborhoods.
  • Preserving accessibility for people living with disabilities who require wheelchair ramps.
  • Ensuring fair wages for women and people of colorThe Attorney General will be able to initiate investigations and bring lawsuits to address alleged civil rights violations as well as take on investigations referred to by the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR). The Office of the Attorney General has the experience and resources to handle large investigations and cases of systemic or widespread violations, complementing work already being done by the Commission to ensure the best possible protection of Marylanders’ civil rights. In addition, the Attorney General will educate members of the public on their civil rights and resources available to protect those rights.


The Office has created a new “Frequently Asked Questions” web page with general information for the public as we work to stand up the newly expanded Civil Rights Division. For more, click here

Also signed into law today was Judicial Proceedings Chair Will Smith’s Senate Bill 290, which expands the Office’s Independent Investigations Division (IID) authority to prosecute, when warranted, police-involved fatalities and serious injuries likely to result in death. Building on the General Assembly’s historic 2021 police reform efforts, this new law will align the State with best practices in police accountability and increase public confidence that investigations and prosecutorial decisions are independent and transparent.

Beginning with incidents occurring on October 1, 2023, the IID will also have prosecution authority over all police-involved fatalities. At the conclusion of an investigation, the IID will determine whether to prosecute an involved officer. Maryland joins nine other states that have adopted this best practice to ensure impartiality in this crucial area of police accountability.

“The Office of Attorney General will exercise this new authority in an impartial manner to improve public confidence in prosecutorial decisions and to ensure that police who are involved in these incidents are treated fairly,” said Attorney General Brown. “The General Assembly’s work on this bill, and Governor Moore’s signature today, align Maryland with best practices that all Marylanders deserve.”

For more information on the Independent Investigations Division’s new prosecutorial authority, visit