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Former deputy attorney general, 'Serial' appeal prosecutor running for Baltimore state's attorney

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 ill-fated 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 who have announced their intentions to run in the Democratic primary to become Baltimore’s top prosecutor, which is the highest-paid position in the city with an annual salary of $238,700.

Attorney Charles “Chad” Curlett, a former New York prosecutor, was first to declare his intention to run, in January.

Attorney Ivan Bates, a former city prosecutor who represented one of the six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, formally kicked off his campaign at an event 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 this election cycle: his sister, Krish, a former aide to first lady Michelle Obama, announced she is running for the Democratic nomination for governor.

jfenton@baltsun.com

twitter.com/justin_fenton

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