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Gregg L. Bernstein

Gregg L. Bernstein

Gregg L. Bernstein

Partner
Zuckerman Spaeder LLP

Gregg L. Bernstein created a new paradigm in the way the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office investigates repeat violent offenders.

Bernstein led the office of more than 400 city prosecutors and support staff from 2011 to 2014 as Baltimore City State’s Attorney. A keystone of his tenure was creating the new Major Investigations Unit to pursue repeat, violent offenders.

“Most of the violent crime is committed by a relatively small number of people,” he said. “So, to the extent that you can use your resources in a strategic way to focus on these violent, repeat offenders, you can have a measureable impact.”

Working with the police, the office helped solve the murder of 12-year-old Sean Johnson who had been randomly targeted by members of the Black Guerilla Family to send a message after a rival group shot one of their leaders. Three other victims also were shot but survived the attack. Two men were convicted and sentenced to life plus 115 and 120 years, respectively.

“The case represented MIU’s relentless efforts to dismantle this gang, which is responsible for much of the violence our city has experienced in recent years,” Bernstein said.

He also established community prosecution teams and launched a Special Victim’s Unit to more effectively prosecute sexual assault and domestic violence offenses. His ability to collaborate and let all voices be heard and attract top talent served him well as state’s attorney.

“It was an opportunity to really enhance the professionalism of the office, which is something that we did, and as a result we made a major impact on public safety,” he said. “Which of course impacts all the citizens of the city and improves the quality of their lives, so that was very rewarding.”

Even though few big-city, elected state’s attorneys try cases, Bernstein took some on, including prosecution of three city police officers accused of kidnapping and abandoning two young teenagers in West Baltimore in 2010 and leaving them miles from home to find their way back. Two were convicted by a jury for misconduct in office and a third was acquitted by a judge. He also prosecuted the murder of a delivery driver during a botched robbery in 2011.

After losing his reelection bid last year, he returned as a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder LLP and is enjoying practicing white collar criminal defense and commercial litigation. Before joining Zuckerman Spaeder, Bernstein worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney, where his cases included prosecuting a Conrail train engineer for a 1987 head-on collision with a passenger train that left 16 dead. He was a partner at Martin, Junghans, Snyder & Bernstein and an attorney at Miles & Stockbridge P.C.

Bernstein also was the first recipient of the John Adams award for a commitment to indigent defense and equal justice for all. It was given by the Federal Defender’s Office and U.S. District Court of Maryland.