Former first lady Catherine “Katie” Curran O’Malley said Wednesday that she is retiring as a judge of the Baltimore District Court, and a source close to her said she is seriously considering running for Maryland attorney general.
O’Malley called her 20 years on the bench the “honor of a lifetime.” Before her appointment, she was a prosecutor in Baltimore County.
“Over the past two decades, I was inspired by my colleagues and humbled by the stories of families that came before me looking for help, redemption and justice,” she said.
The source, a person familiar with her thinking, said she will take the next few weeks to seriously consider a run.
As a judge, O’Malley is precluded from taking part in political activity and she declined to comment on her plans. But her retirement statement offered a hint: She said being a judge “was an amazing insight into the struggles of everyday Marylanders, and they have inspired me to continue the work of seeking justice for the most vulnerable of our neighbors and holding the powerful accountable.”
The Maryland Matters website reported that O’Malley, 59, was among several people who might make a run at attorney general, following the announcement last week that two-term incumbent Brian Frosh would not seek election to another four years in office. Frosh is a Democrat.
An O’Malley candidacy would pit former Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s wife against his former lieutenant governor, as U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown has already announced he will seek the Democratic nomination for the position.
And Katie O’Malley would be pursuing the seat her father, Democrat J. Joseph Curran Jr., held from 1987 to 2007 — the longest anyone has held the position in the state.
O’Malley was appointed to the bench in 2001 by then-Gov. Parris Glendening, a Democrat. She became the state’s first lady in 2007 and continued to serve on the bench. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan re-appointed her to another 10-year term this year.
Retired Judge Barbara B. Waxman, who was Baltimore’s administrative district judge from 2013 to 2021, said O’Malley became particularly attuned to the issue of domestic violence and taught other judges how to handle such cases. She spent the last several years working at the Eastside courthouse on North Avenue, where the criminal and civil domestic violence docket is managed.
“She’s a valued colleague, a very hard worker, and she’ll be deeply missed,” Waxman said.
Attorney Andy Alperstein, who shared an office with O’Malley when she was a prosecutor, said she was “an incredibly wise and thoughtful judge.”
“She has a strong sense of people and really tries to get to the root of what brings people into her courtroom,” he said.
Ivan Bates, another attorney, called her a “tireless advocate for victims” as a prosecutor, and said that on the bench, she worked hard to be fair and unbiased.
As the governor’s wife, she became an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage in 2012. “These individuals in our community have the same rights that we all should have. It is nobody’s business what their sexual orientation is,” she said at the time.
Ashanti Gholar, national president of Emerge America, which recruits Democratic women to run for office, said there is a dearth of female candidates for attorney general nationwide, particularly Democratic women. She had heard rumors about O’Malley running for office and would welcome her candidacy.
“From what I do know of the judge, she has a stellar track record, someone who is for the people, so it will be interesting to see if she does decide to run statewide,” Gholar said.