J. Joseph Curran Jr.

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J. Joseph Curran Jr.
J. Joseph Curran.jpg
44th Attorney General of Maryland
In office
January 21, 1987 – January 17, 2007
GovernorWilliam Donald Schaefer
Parris Glendening
Bob Ehrlich
Martin O'Malley
Preceded byStephen H. Sachs
Succeeded byDoug Gansler
4th Lieutenant Governor of Maryland
In office
January 19, 1983 – January 21, 1987
GovernorHarry Hughes
Preceded bySamuel Bogley
Succeeded byMelvin Steinberg
Personal details
Born (1931-07-07) July 7, 1931 (age 88)
West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Barbara Marie Atkins
ProfessionAttorney at law
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Air Force
Years of service1951–1955
Battles/warsKorean War

J. Joseph Curran Jr. (born July 7, 1931) is an American lawyer and the longest serving elected Attorney General (1987 to 2007) in Maryland history, and previously the fourth Lieutenant Governor of Maryland from 1983 to 1987.[1] His son-in-law, Martin J. O'Malley, served as the 61st Governor of Maryland from 2007 to 2015.


Curran was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, the son of Catherine Mary (Clark) and Baltimore City Council member J. Joseph Curran, Sr.[2][3] He attended Baltimore parochial schools. He graduated from Loyola High School and then from the University of Baltimore. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951 to 1955. Curran returned to Baltimore and entered the University of Baltimore School of Law where he earned a LL.B. in 1959. Curran was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1959 and is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association.


A Democrat, Curran previously served as the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland from 1983 to 1987 under Governor Harry Hughes. Prior to that, Curran was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1959 to 1963 and the Maryland Senate from 1963–1983.[4]

As Attorney General[edit]

In 1986, Curran was elected Attorney General after serving four years as Lieutenant Governor with Governor Harry R. Hughes. In 1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002, he won re-election. As Attorney General, Curran initiated statewide reform in the areas of consumer protection, criminal investigations, Medicaid fraud prosecution, securities regulation, antitrust enforcement, protection of children and teens, parents, seniors, protection of victims of domestic violence and sexual predators. He also worked to strengthen criminal laws against gun violence, prescription drug abuse, and was an opponent of slot machines and casino gambling.

  • Children & Teens- Curran launched a variety of initiatives to help Maryland's children. To protect them against sexual predators, he backed a 2004 law making it a crime to solicit a minor by computer or other means to engage in unlawful sexual conduct. He also has proposed lifetime parole supervision for sex offenders and better notification to communities when sex offenders are released from prison. To reduce teen tobacco use, he led Maryland's participation in the landmark $206 billion national settlement with the tobacco industry, which garnered $4.4 billion for Maryland, and industry concessions on advertising and marketing cigarettes to teens. His office filed suits to stop unlawful Internet cigarette sales and the use of hip-hop themes to target youth, and has reached agreements with national cigarette retailers to prevent sales to youth.
  • Prescription Drugs- Curran created a first-of-its-kind drug-pricing website, which allows consumers to compare retail prices charged by different pharmacies in Maryland for commonly used prescription drugs.[5] He also has developed educational outreach materials to help seniors make good decisions about Medicare Part D, the complex new federal prescription drug benefit. His office also released a report on the growing problem of prescription drug abuse among Maryland teens and adults, and developed the blueprint for a prescription monitoring program to help law enforcement and health professionals reduce drug diversion and abuse and improve pharmaceutical therapy.
  • Crime and Gun Violence- In a landmark 1990 case, Maryland v. Craig, Attorney General Curran successfully urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Maryland's law permitting victims of child abuse to testify via one-way television. Also before the Supreme Court, the Attorney General successfully litigated Maryland v. Wilson (1997). The Attorney General argued that police officers, who routinely conduct traffic stops that sometimes turn deadly, may order the passenger out of the car to allow the officer to safely process the traffic stop. Curran also championed efforts to reduce the epidemic of gun violence.[6] He has worked for better laws and resources to help law enforcement keep guns out of the hands of criminals, including calling for restrictions on the ownership of handguns and establishing a firearms trafficking unit dedicated to the prosecution of persons who unlawfully purchase or attempt to purchase firearms.
  • Slot-Machine & Casino Gambling- Curran was a consistent opponent of efforts to bring slot-machine and casino gambling to the State. After his comprehensive study, The House Never Loses and Maryland Cannot Win, he concluded that the costs of slot machines would far outweigh the benefits.[7]


Citing his age and his long career, Curran decided not to seek re-election in 2006, preventing any conflict of interest that might arise in having O'Malley as governor and his father-in-law as attorney general.[8]


Curran is the brother of Martin "Mike" Curran and Robert W. Curran who both also served on the Baltimore City Council.[9] Curran is married with four living children, three daughters and one son. His youngest daughter, Katie, is a state district court judge and the wife of former Governor Martin O'Malley, his middle daughter, Alice, is the Chief Financial Officer at Miami Country Day School,[citation needed] a private school in South Florida, and his son, J. Joseph "Max" Curran, is a partner at the Saul Ewing law firm. His first cousin was Gerald Curran.[10]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Distinguished Service Award, Mental Health Association of Maryland, 1989
  • Special Achievement Award, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, 1989
  • Pro Bono Award, Maryland's Volunteer Lawyers Service, 1990
  • Elected Official of the Year, Young Democrats of Maryland, 1990
  • Achievement Award, American Cancer Society, 1991, 1995
  • Award of Appreciation, State Board of Victim Services, 1992
  • Certificate of Appreciation, House of Ruth, 1995, 1997
  • Lawmaker of the Year, American Heart Association, 1995–96
  • Advocate of the Year Award, Smoke Free Maryland, 1997
  • Jack Lodge Award (protecting Maryland's citizens from the tobacco industry), 1997
  • Outstanding Leadership Award, Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, 1997
  • Breath of Life Award, American Lung Association of Maryland, 1999
  • Robert C. Heeney Award, Criminal Law Section, Maryland State Bar Association, 2003
  • Chesapeake Champion Award, Waterkeeper Alliance, 2005
  • Kelley-Wyman Memorial Award, National Association of Attorneys General, 2006
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, Inc., 2006
  • Access to Justice Award, Women's Law Center of Maryland, 2006
  • Hopeline Law Enforcement Partnership Award, Verizon Wireless, and Verizon Foundation, 2006
  • Public Service Award, American Legacy Foundation, 2007
  • First Citizen Award, Maryland Senate, 2007.


  1. ^ John, Wagner (May 8, 2006). "Curran To Conclude Generation Of Service". the Washington Post. Retrieved May 9, 2008.
  2. ^ "Robert Curran, District 3: Baltimore City Council". baltimorecitycouncil.com. Archived from the original on July 17, 2015.
  3. ^ "Councilman Robert Curran". councilmancurran.com. Archived from the original on July 8, 2015.
  4. ^ "Attorney General: Former Attorneys General". Maryland State Archives. Retrieved May 9, 2008.
  5. ^ "Curran unveils prescription drug pricing website to help consumers save money by comparison shopping". The Office of the Attorney General of Maryland. April 27, 2004. Retrieved May 9, 2008.
  6. ^ "Maryland gun ban is hotly debated". The New York Times. October 9, 1988. Retrieved May 9, 2008.
  7. ^ Libit, Howard; Greg Garland (March 24, 2005). "Slots prey on weakest, foes warn Assembly". Chicago Tribune by the Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 9, 2008.
  8. ^ Vogel, Steve (May 9, 2006). "Rally With a Retirement Twist". The Washington Post. p. B02. Retrieved November 2, 2007.
  9. ^ "District 3: Robert Curran". 2008 Baltimore City Council. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved May 9, 2008.
  10. ^ Kelly, Jacques (March 28, 2013). "Gerald J. Curran, state delegate". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
Political offices
Preceded by
Samuel W. Bogley
Lieutenant Governor of Maryland
Succeeded by
Melvin A. Steinberg
Legal offices
Preceded by
Stephen H. Sachs
Attorney General of Maryland
Succeeded by
Doug Gansler