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Karl Racine
Karl Racine.jpg
Attorney General for the District of Columbia
Assumed office
January 2, 2015
MayorMuriel Bowser
Preceded byIrvin B. Nathan
Personal details
Karl Anthony Racine

(1962-12-14) December 14, 1962 (age 58)
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania (BA)
University of Virginia (JD)

Karl Anthony Racine[1] (born December 14, 1962)[2] is a Haitian-American lawyer and politician. He is the first independently elected attorney general of the District of Columbia, a position he has held since January 2015.[3] Before that, he was the managing partner of Venable LLP.[4][5][6]

Early life and education

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Racine and his family fled the Duvalier regime and emigrated to Washington, D.C.,[7] when he was three years old.[8] He attended public schools until eighth grade and graduated from St. John's College High School,[8] and was a star high school basketball player.[6]

Racine attended the University of Pennsylvania and became the team captain of the basketball team. He led the team to two Ivy League championships and made the second team all-Ivy League two times.[9]

Racine then went to the University of Virginia School of Law, where he worked at a pro bono clinic representing migrant farm workers.[4][8] He said he was drawn to the law because of the role lawyers played in advancing civil rights.[8] While in law school, he and his mother produced the first Haitian Creole/English legal dictionary, intended to aid Haitian immigrants in the United States.[4]

Legal career

After graduating from law school in 1989, Racine joined Venable LLP but left in 1992 to become a staff attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.[4][6] He then returned to private practice at Cacheris & Treanor, where he handled large white-collar and civil cases,[4] and later served as associate White House counsel in the Clinton administration.[4][10] In addition, he served as a member of the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission,[11] a selection panel for judges. Racine returned to Venable in 2000 and was elected managing partner in 2006, becoming the first black managing partner of a top-100 law firm.[4][6][10]

He led the team representing food services corporation Sodexo in a class action racial discrimination suit brought by over 2,500 African American employees, one of the largest such suits brought after the 1991 amendments to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[12][13]

From 2011 to 2012, Racine represented D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., who pleaded guilty after a protracted investigation to diverting $300,000 in grants earmarked for charity and youth baseball groups to pay for personal luxury items.[14] During sentencing, Racine successfully argued that Thomas deserved a lighter sentence because his guilty plea was an example of his commitment to teaching the District's youth how to "take responsibility when you have done wrong."[5][6][15] Racine later said Thomas "needed counsel to represent him zealously" and told possible critics, "I would represent them if, God forbid, they made significant mistakes, errors and violated the law."[6]

In July 2014, Racine led an inquest into state-issued credit card spending by members of the Board of Education in Montgomery County, Maryland, finding no evidence of intentional wrongdoing but recommending that access to the cards be revoked.[16][17][18]

Campaign for Attorney General

In July 2014, Racine announced his candidacy for D.C. Attorney General, prompting friend and fellow prominent white-collar attorney Mark Tuohey to drop out of the race and endorse him, saying he "has all the qualifications."[5][6][19]

On November 4, 2014, Racine became the first elected Attorney General for the District of Columbia, beating out four other challengers with 37% of the vote.[20][21]

Attorney General

As Attorney General, Racine has established four priorities for the DC Office of the Attorney General: data-driven juvenile justice reform, protecting consumers from abusive tactics by unscrupulous businesses, preserving affordable housing and protecting tenants in communities across the District, and advancing democracy and safeguarding public integrity.

In line with these priorities, Attorney General Racine has helped end mandatory shackling of juveniles appearing before D.C. Superior Court and expanded options for rehabilitating low-risk juvenile offenders. A diversion program that helps these young people get and stay on the right track has achieved a success rate of nearly 80 percent. Under Attorney General Racine, OAG has increased participation in the program five-fold, positively impacting young lives and increasing public safety.

In 2015, Attorney General Racine established a standalone Office of Consumer Protection within OAG focused on outreach, education and legal actions to protect consumers. He has brought tens of millions of dollars to the District through settlements and judgments in cases against corporate wrongdoers. In 2017, Racine established the Public Advocacy Division to bring affirmative litigation to preserve affordable housing, protect residents against wage theft, safeguard the environment and ensure public integrity.[22]

In September 2017, Racine announced he would run for reelection.[23] Racine won reelection in the May 15 general election with 93% of the vote against Libertarian candidate Joe Henchman.[24]

Following the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, Racine urged Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment in order to remove President Donald Trump from office, declaring him "disinterested [sic] in upholding the duties of his office".[25]

Racine has been mentioned as a possible candidate for mayor in 2022, to challenge incumbent Mayor Muriel Bowser.[26]

Personal life

Racine served as a board member of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia,[27] as a member of the steering committee of the Whitman-Walker Clinic's Legal Services Program,[28] and as a board member of the local literacy organization Everybody Wins.[29]

He has also been active in aiding his native Haiti, raising $125,000 from Venable's lawyers, staff, and foundation to support relief efforts after the 2010 Haiti earthquake,[30] and raising money for the Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP).[31]

Racine lives in Logan Circle.[10][32]


  1. ^ University of Pennsylvania (Class of 1985) Commencement
  2. ^ Hubbell, Martindale (2003). Martindale Hubbell Law Directory 2004. Martindale Hubbell. p. 170. ISBN 9781561606009.
  3. ^ Shapiro, T. Rees; DeBonis, Mike (November 4, 2014). "Karl Racine wins first-ever race for D.C. attorney general". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Leadership Council on Legal Diversity". Archived from the original on September 11, 2014. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c "Report: Defense Lawyers Swap Places in Attorney General Race". Washington City Paper. July 9, 2014. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Karl A. Racine and Lateefah Williams enter race for D.C. attorney general". Washington Post. July 10, 2014. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  7. ^ "Former Penn guard assists in suit against former Wharton student". June 16, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d "An Interview with Karl Racine". July 5, 2005. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  9. ^ "Karl Racine wins first-ever race for D.C. attorney general". February 23, 2019. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c "Former D.C. Councilman Sentenced to 38 Months in Prison for Embezzlement". March 3, 2011. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  11. ^ "New Lawyer Named to D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission". The Blog of Legal Times. January 3, 2014. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  12. ^ "Food Services Firm Sodexho Settles Bias Case". NPR. April 28, 2005. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  13. ^ "Karl A. Racine, Esquire". Judicial Nomination Commission. May 3, 2012. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  14. ^ "Former D.C. Councilman Sentenced to 38 Months in Prison for Embezzlement". Legal Times. May 3, 2012. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  15. ^ "So Long Harry!". Washington City Paper. May 3, 2012. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  16. ^ "Firm investigates questionable spending by Montgomery Co. school board members". FOX 5 D.C. July 22, 2014. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
  17. ^ "Montgomery County school board members give up credit cards". July 30, 2014. Archived from the original on September 6, 2014. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
  18. ^ "Board of Education Spent $112,569 in One Month on Law Firm Reviewing Credit Card Expenditures". Bethesda Magazine. August 20, 2014. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  19. ^ "Candidates Work the Revolving Door in District's Attorney General Race". Washington City Paper. July 9, 2014. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  20. ^ "November 2014 General Election results". DC Board of Elections Results. November 4, 2014. Archived from the original on February 26, 2016. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  21. ^ "Karl Racine wins first-ever race for D.C. attorney general". Washington Post. November 4, 2014. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
  22. ^ "About the Attorney General | Attorney General Karl A. Racine".
  23. ^ Jamison, Peter (September 8, 2017). "D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine will not enter mayor's race". Washington Post. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  24. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah (May 15, 2019). "District of Columbia Election Results". New York Times. Archived from the original on November 11, 2018. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Jaffe Report: Winners and Losers in the DC Election".
  27. ^ "21st Annual Servant of Justice Dinner Program" (PDF). Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  28. ^ "From Whitman-Walker Clinic's Legal Services Program: February 2010". Archived from the original on November 8, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  29. ^ "Legal Celebs Turn Out for Everybody Wins". Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  30. ^ "For Venable's Karl Racine, Haiti Fundraising Was Personal". The Blog of Legal Times. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  31. ^ "Summer 2008 HELP Update" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 10, 2014. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  32. ^ "DC Coast Chef Jeff Tunks and Ex-Redskin Fred Smoot Move House". NPR. February 4, 2011. Retrieved July 14, 2014.

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Irvin B. Nathan
Attorney General for the District of Columbia
This page was last edited on 8 April 2021, at 11:09
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