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Jill Carter resigns as head of Baltimore's Civil Rights office ahead of Senate swearing-in

Jill P. Carter has resigned her position as director of Baltimore’s Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement and was sworn in Friday to the state Senate.

In an interview Friday, Carter said she had not intended to resign, but recently learned state law prohibits her from holding the director position as a sitting senator. She said she felt she could “be of best service to Baltimore” by “advocating at the state level where I can have the most impact.”

She said she intends to accept a deputy director position in the Civil Rights office.

Carter’s resignation is the second in the Civil Rights office this week, following the abrupt resignation Tuesday of the office’s deputy director, Charles G. Byrd Jr., after The Baltimore Sun began asking questions about his disbarment last year.

Carter was appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday to the vacant Baltimore state Senate seat surrendered last month by Nathaniel T. Oaks, who resigned the same day he pleaded guilty in a federal corruption case.

In an interview Friday, Carter said she “wanted to make sure that I would be able to fully dedicate myself, for now, to this position of senator.”

Carter has said Byrd “decided to resign because he didn’t want his past to be a distraction to the important work of the Office of Civil Rights.”

Byrd was disbarred in April 2017 for misappropriating funds in his private law firm’s attorney trust account “for his personal use and benefit,” according to court records.

The resignations come at a critical time for the office, which oversees the Civilian Review Board — a panel that provides civilian oversight for police, reviewing cases of alleged misconduct and providing recommendations to the Police Department.

Improved civilian oversight of police is a goal of the city’s consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, and a separate panel is considering ways to improve that oversight. Carter has said the Civilian Review Board, and by extension the Civil Rights office, should have a larger oversight role and more authority to enforce proper policing in the city.

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