Vig­nara­jah an­nounces for state’s at­tor­ney

For­mer deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral joins what prom­ises to be a crowded field

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Justin Fen­ton jfen­ton@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/justin_fen­ton

For­mer Mary­land Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Thiru Vig­nara­jah, a for­mer fed­eral and state prose­cu­tor, is en­ter­ing next year’s Demo­cratic pri­mary for Bal­ti­more state’s at­tor­ney.

Vig­nara­jah, 40, filed fundrais­ing pa­per­work ear­lier this month and launched a web­site Thurs­day. In a state­ment, he vowed to lead the “most in­no­va­tive, trans­par­ent, pro­gres­sive prose­cu­tor’s of­fice in the his­tory of the coun­try” while driv­ing down crime to “record lows” at “record speed.” “The cri­sis of crime in our city is shat­ter­ing lives and de­stroy­ing our com­mu­ni­ties. It breaks my heart,” Vig­nara­jah said in a state­ment. “Enough is enough. This has to end, and it has to end now. I will not rest un­til ev­ery­one, ev­ery­where is safe.”

Vig­nara­jah may be best known for han­dling the state’s op­po­si­tion for a new trial for Ad­nan Syed, the sub­ject of the pop­u­lar “Se­rial” pod­cast who says he was wrongly con­victed of killing his ex-girl­friend in 1999. Syed won a new trial, which the state is ap­peal­ing.

Vig­nara­jah said he left the state at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice to join the tran­si­tion team for Hillary Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, then joined the DLA Piper law firm as a lit­i­ga­tion part­ner. He has con­tin­ued to han­dle the state’s ap­peal of the Syed case.

He pre­vi­ously led the city state’s at­tor­ney’s Ma­jor In­ves­ti­ga­tions Unit, which brought com­plex cases against gang mem­bers and drug or­ga­ni­za­tions, and was a fed­eral prose­cu­tor. He also clerked in the U.S. Supreme Court and was president of the Har­vard Law Re­view.

Vig­nara­jah said he knows “not only how to end the vi­o­lence, hold crim­i­nals ac­count­able, and turn around the prob­lem of crime in Bal­ti­more — but also that poli­cies of mass in­car­cer­a­tion, manda­tory min­i­mums, and zero tol­er­ance are not the an­swer.”

Vig­nara­jah, a Fed­eral Hill res­i­dent, joins a field of can­di­dates to run in the Demo­cratic pri­mary to be­come Bal­ti­more’s top prose­cu­tor, the high­est-paid po­si­tion in the city with an an­nual salary of $238,700.

At­tor­ney Charles “Chad” Curlett, a for­mer New York prose­cu­tor, an­nounced in Jan­uary. At­tor­ney Ivan Bates, a for­mer city prose­cu­tor who rep­re­sented one of the six of­fi­cers charged in the death of Fred­die Gray, kicked off his cam­paign in Park Heights last month.

In­cum­bent State’s At­tor­ney Mar­i­lyn Mosby has re­fused to ad­dress whether she plans to run for re-elec­tion, though she launched a re­vamped web­site and held a se­ries of fundrais­ers ear­lier in the year.

Vig­nara­jah is not the only mem­ber of his fam­ily run­ning for a top of­fice in Mary­land: his sis­ter, Kr­ish, a for­mer aide to first lady Michelle Obama, is run­ning for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion for gover­nor. Vig­nara­jah

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