Karl Racine

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Karl Racine
Karl Racine.jpg
Attorney General of the District of Columbia
Assumed office
January 2, 2015
Mayor Muriel Bowser
Preceded by Irvin Nathan
Personal details
Karl Anthony Racine[1]

(1962-12-14) December 14, 1962 (age 57)[2]
Port-Au-Prince, Haiti[3]
Political party Democratic
Education University of Pennsylvania (BA)
University of Virginia (JD)

Karl Anthony Racine (born December 14, 1962) is a Haitian-born 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.[4] Prior to his election, he was the managing partner of Venable LLP.[5][6][7]

Early life and education

Born in Haiti, Racine and his family fled the Duvalier regime and emigrated to Washington, D.C. 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.[7]

Racine attended the University of Pennsylvania and became the team captain of the basketball team. He led the team to a 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.[5][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.[5]

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.[5][7] He then returned to private practice at Cacheris & Treanor, where he handled large white-collar and civil cases,[5] and later served as associate White House counsel in the Clinton administration.[5][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.[5][7][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."[6][7][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."[7]

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."[6][7][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, Karl 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 Attorney General 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 will run for reelection.[23] Racine won reelection in the May 15 general election with 93% of the vote against Libertarian candidate Joe Henchman.[24]

Racine has been mentioned as a possible candidate for mayor in 2022.[25]

Personal life

Racine served as a board member of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia,[26] as a member of the steering committee of the Whitman-Walker Clinic's Legal Services Program[27] and as a board member of the local literacy organization Everybody Wins.[28]

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[29] and raising money for the Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP).[30]

Racine lives in Logan Circle.[10][31]


  1. ^ University of Pennsylvania (Class of 1985) Commencement
  2. ^ Hubbell, Martindale (2003). Martindale Hubbell Law Directory 2004. Martindale Hubbell. p. 170. ISBN 9781561606009.
  3. ^ "Former Penn guard assists in suit against former Wharton student". 2017-06-16.
  4. ^ Shapiro, T. Rees; DeBonis, Mike (2014-11-04). "Karl Racine wins first-ever race for D.C. attorney general". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Leadership Council on Legal Diversity". Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "Report: Defense Lawyers Swap Places in Attorney General Race". Washington City Paper. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Karl A. Racine and Lateefah Williams enter race for D.C. attorney general". Washington Post. 10 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d "An Interview with Karl Racine". Bisnow.com. 5 July 2005. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  9. ^ "Karl Racine wins first-ever race for D.C. attorney general". 2019-02-23. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  10. ^ a b c "Former D.C. Councilman Sentenced to 38 Months in Prison for Embezzlement". Bizjournals.com. 3 March 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  11. ^ "New Lawyer Named to D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission". The Blog of Legal Times. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  12. ^ "Food Services Firm Sodexho Settles Bias Case". NPR. 28 April 2005. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  13. ^ "Karl A. Racine, Esquire". Judicial Nomination Commission. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  14. ^ "Former D.C. Councilman Sentenced to 38 Months in Prison for Embezzlement". Legal Times. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  15. ^ "So Long Harry!". Washington City Paper. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  16. ^ "Firm investigates questionable spending by Montgomery Co. school board members". FOX 5 D.C. 22 July 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  17. ^ "Montgomery County school board members give up credit cards". Gazette.net. 30 July 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  18. ^ "Board of Education Spent $112,569 in One Month on Law Firm Reviewing Credit Card Expenditures". Bethesda Magazine. 20 August 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  19. ^ "Candidates Work the Revolving Door in District's Attorney General Race". Washington City Paper. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  20. ^ "November 2014 General Election results". DC Board of Elections Results. 2014-11-04. Archived from the original on 2016-02-26. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  21. ^ "Karl Racine wins first-ever race for D.C. attorney general". Washington Post. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  22. ^ "About the Attorney General | Attorney General Karl A. Racine".
  23. ^ Jamison, Peter (2017-09-08). "D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine will not enter mayor's race". Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  24. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah (2019-05-15). "District of Columbia Election Results". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2018-11-11. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  25. ^ "Jaffe Report: Winners and Losers in the DC Election".
  26. ^ "21st Annual Servant of Justice Dinner Program" (PDF). Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  27. ^ "From Whitman-Walker Clinic's Legal Services Program: February 2010". Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  28. ^ "Legal Celebs Turn Out for Everybody Wins". Bisnow.com. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  29. ^ "For Venable's Karl Racine, Haiti Fundraising Was Personal". The Blog of Legal Times. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  30. ^ "Summer 2008 HELP Update" (PDF). Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  31. ^ "DC Coast Chef Jeff Tunks and Ex-Redskin Fred Smoot Move House". NPR. 4 February 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2014.

External links

  • Office of the Attorney General web site
  • Campaign web site. Archived from the original on May 16, 2015.
  • Karl Racine on Facebook
Legal offices
Preceded by
Irvin Nathan
Attorney General of the District of Columbia
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