Stephen H. Sachs was a profoundly decent human being. That is the common refrain that has been heard frequently since his death on January 12, at age 87.
Attorney General Sachs is perhaps best known for prosecuting the Catonsville Nine as a young United States Attorney. It is therefore at first a bit surprising that progressives have been in the forefront of those praising Steve Sachs. But looking back over his 50+ year legal career as Maryland Attorney General and in private practice, it isn’t at all surprising. For Steve Sachs made a career of championing the voiceless. As AG, he refused to defend state-sanctioned warehousing of the developmentally challenged and mentally ill, which led to their being released from unwarranted state custody. He was a strong voice for civil rights and election reform. And in 2008, Governor O’Malley appointed Mr. Sachs to lead an independent review of the Maryland State Police for its infiltration of antiwar activist groups. His final report stated that he “believe[d] that the surveillance undertaken here is inconsistent with an overarching value in our democratic society – the free and unfettered debate of important public questions. Such police conduct ought to be prohibited as a matter of public policy.” Even in his prosecution of the Catonsville Nine, Mr. Sachs always recognized the bravery of the nine who acted out of conviction that the Vietnam war was profoundly evil.
Steve Sachs was a legal and moral giant. He will be missed. The Baltimore County Progressive Democrats extend their condolences to his daughter Elizabeth and his son Leon.