Critical article drops and Thiru Vignarajah quits candidate forum early

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Last night in a church basement, lawyers Ivan Bates and Thiru Vignarajah were working on their familiar talking points, with a law professor as moderator,

It was a forum for two of the three Democratic candidates for Baltimore State’s Attorney, sponsored by the Roland Park Civic League. (In April, the group had brought in the incumbent, Marilyn Mosby, to address their monthly meeting.)

The forum was supposed to take place from 7-9pm, but before the first hour was over, there was a surprise announcement.

“Unfortunately, Thiru has to leave for another event,” Vignarajah communications director Alisa Vasquez told the audience.

Civic League President Claudia Diamond appeared surprised, commenting that she had not been told the candidate was due to leave earlier.

Around the same time, critical questions and comments were popping up in the hybrid reunion’s online chat.

The meeting moderator has changed the chat to no longer be public. But not before one of the commenters linked a damning article about Vignarajah that had been posted online earlier today by freelance journalist Justine Barron.

Registered account

Barron’s article covers some of the same material contained in a Baltimore Sun candidate profile published in 2020 when Vignarajah was running for mayor.

The Sun The article recapped the story of Vignarajah’s immigrant family, Ivy League education and career as a city, state, and federal prosecutor, and his awkward encounter in the hotel in 2015 and a controversial traffic stop in 2019.

The article’s description of his alleged behavior towards his subordinates drew strong denials during Vignarajah’s time.

Barron’s article, published less than a month before the July 19 primary, largely focuses on allegations of staff abuse and includes texts between Vignarajah and Katie Dorian, organized crime chief at the DA’s office. general.

Dorian, who worked with Vignarajah at the state’s attorney’s office when she started as an intern in 2012, describes what she calls an “abusive” professional relationship that escalated, she said, when she was hired as a law clerk and attorney and Vignarajah served as an assistant attorney general.

The audience at last night’s forum hosted by the Roland Park Civic League for two state attorney candidates running in the Democratic primary. (Shen Fern)

No answer yet

Vignarajah stayed at the meeting a bit longer after Vasquez made his announcement, but eventually left, leaving Bates alone to answer questions from the audience.

When asked after the meeting why Vignarajah had to leave earlier, Vasquez declined to say which event he had to attend.

Vignarajah has not replied yet. The Brew’s request for comment.

Ann-Baron Carneal, who was monitoring the chat for the Civic League meeting, was asked why she disabled public access to it.

Carneal said, as she understood, the chat “should only be used to communicate questions to applicants,” according to rules established for the forum by its moderator, Zina Makar, an assistant professor at the University of Washington Law School. the University of Baltimore.

In an email, Carneal further explained, “I advised people online to send me direct and succinct questions so that I could easily paraphrase when Zina asked if there were any questions online in cat. The moderator rules also allowed participants to raise their hand to ask a question themselves, rather than asking the question online.

“During the forum, a few participants started discussing candidates and linking to articles in the chat, which was not in accordance with forum rules. As such, I have changed the preferences on the chat so that questions can be directed to me and then to candidates. »

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