Culture Wars/Current Controversies

A Witch Trial at the Legal Aid Society

By Bari Weiss

Maud Maron was a model public defender. Then she was forced out of her job because of her political views and her race.

If you google “bleeding heart liberal,” Maud Maron might well turn up as the first hit. Every cause liberals are supposed to fight for, every group they are supposed to champion, every candidate they are supposed to support — well, that was Maron’s not so atypical life and career. Until recently.

A New York City native, Maron lived her early years in subsidized housing when her father walked out on her mother, who was a pediatric nurse at Lenox Hill Hospital. Her mother remarried, the family moved to Pennsylvania, and Maron returned to the city for college. While a student at Barnard, Maron was a clinic escort for Planned Parenthood. Later, she went to Cardozo Law School knowing she wanted to be a public defender. There, she was a student of Kathleen Cleaver, the former Black Panther who was then a visiting professor. (Cleaver calls Maron her “excellent research assistant” on the first page of this published paper about Mumia Abu-Jamal.)

After Maron graduated from Cardozo in 1998, she joined the Legal Aid Society, where she represented the most disadvantaged people in Manhattan. She left in 2006, after the birth of her first child, and then rejoined the nonprofit in 2017, working in the Bronx. “I had always intended to go back. It just took longer than I thought because I wound up having four children over a decade. But when my youngest was 18 months I went back to work,” Maron told me over the weekend. “For me, being a public defender is more than a job. It’s who I am.”


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