January 12, 2022
We are saddened by the passing of former Maryland Attorney General and U.S. Attorney Stephen Sachs. After he “retired” from public office and private practice, his work as a lawyer for the public interest never ended. Stephen Sachs joined the Public Justice Center’s efforts in 2000. “He had a significant impact on the development of the Public Justice Center’s Appellate Advocacy Project and the founding of the Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr. Appellate Advocacy Fellowship,” said John Nethercut, Executive Director of the PJC. He frequently participated in moots for appellate arguments. As PJC attorney Sally Dworak-Fisher recalls, “The first time I was mooted for an appellate argument, Steve was one of the judges. Knowing his legal stature made me more nervous, and I’m sure I bombed. But he tactfully gave me advice on structuring the argument to make it compelling, easy to remember, and succinct. I have thought of him often throughout my career and have applied his advice countless times in everything from other arguments to testimony in the Maryland General Assembly.”
Steve was also instrumental in the early years of the civil right to counsel movement, helping to establish the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel. He argued the case Frase v. Barnhart with the PJC, seeking to establish a right to counsel in child custody cases in Maryland. In addition to supporting PJC legal advocacy, he served on our Leadership Council. We are grateful for the many ways Steve advanced access to justice, and our thoughts are with his family. PJC Legal Director Debra Gardner, who worked with Steve for many years, said, “He was a giant. His care and attention to the skills of our Murnaghan Fellows for well over a decade knew no bounds. And he was generous with his counsel, which I soaked up like a sponge. May his memory be a blessing. And don’t worry, Steve, we won’t forget to add a little more garlic.”
You can read Stephen Sachs’ obituary in the Baltimore Sun here.