The State of Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR), an independent State agency, is represented by the Office of the General Counsel. The Office is autonomous from the Attorney General’s Office per State Government Article, §20-206, which created an independent legal counsel for the agency. The Maryland General Assembly’s intent was to avoid conflicts of interest when the State is charged with unlawful discrimination in complaints filed with MCCR, as the Attorney General is the legal representative for State agencies.
Charged with representing MCCR in all legal matters, the Office defends the agency in personnel matters; any litigation involving the agency; defends MCCR final decisions and orders; and subpoena enforcements. The Office carries out the State’s police powers in litigation involving the enforcement of the State’s anti-discrimination statute, State Government Article, Title 20. Litigation may be instituted before the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) or State, federal trial and appellate courts.
Additional responsibilities of the Office include advising MCCR directors and Commissioners through oral and written opinions. The Office conducts training, issues legal opinions and provides legal advice to MCCR investigators. Corporations, small businesses, advocacy groups, non-profit organizations, educational programs for Maryland citizen, State and local governments are provided technical assistance for best practices regarding the State’s anti-discrimination law.
The Office is extensively involved in MCCR’s legislative agenda. Its duties include, meeting with legislators, providing technical assistance in drafting Title 20 bills; drafting legislation and amendments; preparing the legislative packet; drafting the agency’s testimony; testifying at bill and sub-committee hearings; attending bill work sessions; conducting legal research; working with the Governor’s legislative liaison and following up on information requests from bill sponsors or the Governor’s Office.
In addition, the Office serves as the agency’s regulation coordinator, evaluator and drafter of all proposed regulations submitted by MCCR for promulgation.