Lawyer joins race for Pr. Ge­orge’s pros­e­cu­tor

The Washington Post - - METRO - BY ARELIS R. HERNÁN­DEZ arelis.her­nan­dez@wash­post.com

A Prince Ge­orge’s County civil rights lawyer who heads the county’s Hu­man Re­la­tions Com­mis­sion is seek­ing to be­come the subur­ban ju­ris­dic­tion’s top pros­e­cu­tor in 2018.

D. Michael Lyles, a for­mer Bowie City Coun­cil mem­ber, will face for­mer state del­e­gate Aisha N. Brave­boy and state Sen. Vic­tor R. Ramirez in the Demo­cratic pri­mary race to fill the seat be­ing va­cated by State’s At­tor­ney An­gela Al­so­brooks (D).

Democrats over­whelm­ingly out­num­ber Repub­li­cans in Prince Ge­orge’s, so the win­ner of the June 26 pri­mary is al­most cer­tain to win the gen­eral elec­tion in Novem­ber.

Lyles, 54, of Bowie, said he is cam­paign­ing on a mes­sage of “com­pas­sion­ate jus­tice” drawn from his years ad­vo­cat­ing for vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, in­clud­ing vin­di­cat­ing a man wrong­fully con­victed of a drug of­fense and help­ing to lib­er­ate mi­nors from the sex trade.

“I have mostly rep­re­sented peo­ple who needed le­gal help be­cause they couldn’t af­ford a more ex­pen­sive lawyer,” Lyles said. “I al­ways felt I was help­ing to vin­di­cate peo­ple’s rights and abil­ity to get out of a tough sit­u­a­tion.”

In his work for the county, Lyles in­ves­ti­gates and pros­e­cutes dis­crim­i­na­tion claims and chairs a hu­man- and sex-traf­fick­ing task force, where he de­vel­ops strate­gies and part­ner­ships to com­bat a grow­ing county prob­lem.

“Com­pas­sion­ate jus­tice means that we un­der­stand that crime will have vic­tims, and vic­tims need to be cared for not just as wit­nesses or num­bers — some­times they need to be made whole,” Lyles said. “It also means we won’t have a cookie-cut­ter ap­proach to pros­e­cut­ing crime.”

He said his drive to de­fend oth­ers comes from his own child­hood. He was born to a teenage mother who could not care for him and was raised by his el­derly god­par­ents. Grow­ing up, he said, he was picked on. Al­though he said his god­par­ents “did the best they could do,” he bat­tled feel­ings of aban­don­ment well into adult­hood.

“There was al­ways a de­sire to pro­tect oth­ers be­cause for so long I couldn’t pro­tect my­self,” he said.

Lyles re­ceived an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree from the Univer­sity of the District of Columbia and a law de­gree from Catholic Univer­sity. His first job as a lawyer was with the District’s Child and Fam­ily Ser­vices Agency.

Af­ter mov­ing to Prince Ge­orge’s in 1993, he was elected to the coun­cil of the county’s largest mu­nic­i­pal­ity, Bowie, and served two terms. He ran un­suc­cess­fully for mayor in 2007.

Lyles is ac­tive in civic life in Prince Ge­orge’s and has ties to mem­bers of its po­lit­i­cal elite, in­clud­ing County Ex­ec­u­tive Rush­ern L. Baker III (D), who is run­ning for gov­er­nor of Mary­land.

This will be Lyles’s first run for coun­ty­wide of­fice.

LYLES CAM­PAIGN

Demo­crat D. Michael Lyles, a civil rights lawyer, ad­vo­cates “com­pas­sion­ate jus­tice.”

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