‘Honored to lead’: Board names Baltimore lawyer Natasha Dartigue to six-year term as Maryland public defender

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Baltimore’s top public defender, Natasha Dartigue, will become the Maryland public defender in July, the state Office of the Public Defender board of trustees has announced.

Dartigue, who is serving in her Baltimore role in an interim capacity, will replace retiring Public Defender Paul B. DeWolfe and will serve a six-year term. The board selected Dartigue, a first-generation American, after a job search that started earlier this year.


“I am honored to lead the Office of the Public Defender in the next chapter of its history” Dartigue said Thursday.

She replaces DeWolfe after his 12-year tenure, which was defined by efforts to maintain staffing to keep up with an ever-increasing caseload and pushes for criminal justice reform.


“I am committed to furthering these efforts as we continue to navigate emerging and long-standing challenges and recognize our successes,” Dartigue said. “Together we will continue to create meaningful criminal justice reform.”

Having worked for the Office of the Public Defender since 1996, Dartigue was the right choice to head the state agency charged with providing legal representation to those accused of crimes who can’t afford private attorneys, said T. Wray McCurdy, chair of the agency’s board of trustees.

Natasha Dartigue has named the new public defender for Maryland.

“Ms. Dartigue has a combination of impressive qualifications, vision, and experience, and the Board is excited to have her lead this agency,” McCurdy said. “She has shown leadership ability both inside the courtroom and in the greater community.”

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Dartigue has represented clients in the juvenile, district and circuit court divisions of the Baltimore office of the Office of the Public Defender. She previously served as a felony trial supervisor and as the deputy district public defender for Baltimore.

She has led the Baltimore office on an interim basis since Kirsten Downs left last month to become executive director of the Homeless Persons Representation Process, a nonprofit organization providing legal representation to the unhoused while working to eradicate homelessness in Maryland.

It’s not clear who will be Baltimore’s next top public defender.

Before joining the public defender’s office, Dartigue clerked for the late Baltimore Circuit Judge Roger W. Brown.

The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Dartigue is a graduate of Howard University School of Law in Washington, where she was a member of the Howard Law Journal.


Dartigue has received various recognitions and acknowledgments, including service awards from the Office of the Public Defender, the National Association of Public Defense and the Baltimore City Department of Recreation & Parks. She was named Government & Public Interest Lawyer of the Year by the Bar Association of Baltimore City in 2018.

Her term will begin July 1.