Local lawyer is one of five candidates for state AG

by Len Lear
Posted 2/1/24

Keir Bradford-Grey would be the first Black official to serve in the post.

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Local lawyer is one of five candidates for state AG


Keir Bradford-Grey, a local lawyer who managed more than 500 staff members and a $50 million budget at the Philadelphia Defender Association for five years and was the first African American woman to lead Montgomery County’s public defender office, is now running to become Pennsylvania’s attorney general. If she wins, Bradford-Grey will achieve another milestone. She will be the first Black official to serve in the post.

Bradford-Grey, a former Germantown resident who now lives in East Oak Lane, left the Philadelphia Defender Association in 2021 to become a partner in the Center City law firm Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP, where she advised businesses, educational organizations and nonprofits. She is now one of five announced candidates in the April 23 primary election to select the Democrat who will run in the Nov. 5 general election. 

There are currently three candidates for the Republican nomination. 

The current Attorney General, Michelle Henry, was appointed by Gov. Josh Shapiro to fill the post Shapiro had occupied before earning the governorship. Henry recently announced that she will not be a candidate in the April primary election.

Bradford-Grey told us in an interview last week that she is running to make life better for the people she grew accustomed to seeing as a public defender.

“I'm a mother, and my kids were exposed to some bad stuff, just as much as other kids are,” she said, adding that she wants accountability for “bad business practices and abuse of power and authority.”

“There are bad actors on street corners, but there are also bad actors in boardrooms,” she said. “My clients say they can get guns as easily as lollipops. I want to go after not just the kids who use guns but the people who put the guns in their hands.”

She’s also concerned about corporations that prey on low-income homeowners. 

 “My mom, who is 77, gets calls all the time about reverse mortgages,” she said. “The callers target the vulnerable.”

There’s only so much a public defender can do to protect people like her mother, she said. The attorney general has much more power. 

The AG can be more preventative than any local prosecutor, and that’s why I am running,” she said. “Consumer protection and financial protection, even housing stability, are a big part of the job. It should not just be about getting a high conviction rate.”

One issue that Bradford-Grey is particularly passionate about is neglected and abused children, whom she often represented as a public defender. 

“At the time I never thought about running for public office, but that experience had an impact,” she said. “We represented abused children in civil proceedings and were child advocates for the mentally ill. Dysfunctional homes, social ills, severe mental illness; I've seen it all. 

“We have to understand the root causes of these issues,” she said. “I know the system's strengths and weaknesses, and that will help me as an Attorney General. Many people think automatically that as a public defender, you must be soft on crime, but we know how and why people commit crimes. If I were a prosecutor, I'd want a person who had been a public defender.”

A native of Boston, Bradford-Grey said she “knows what it feels like to fit into someone else's mold.”

“I went to Catholic school because it was a lot cheaper, class sizes were smaller, and my mom could sleep at night, knowing that I was getting a good education,” she explained. “I changed to Baptist at Albany State University (Georgia), though. It was my refuge. The word of God got to me. In Catholic school, I was just afraid God would punish me. I did not feel the comfort of God.”

After college, Bradford-Grey went to Ohio University Law School and then came to Philadelphia because “the U.S. Constitution was birthed here” and because “I always loved the cultural diversity in Philly – Black, Hispanic, Indian,  Jewish – and I love the food choices.”

Bradford-Grey is currently appearing in “72 Seconds in Rittenhouse Square,” a three-part television docu-series now available on Paramount+. She represented Michael White, a food delivery person and aspiring rapper who was accused of fatally stabbing real estate developer Sean Schellenger during a violent altercation on a Center City street on July 12, 2018. 

With Bradford-Grey as his lawyer, White was found not guilty of voluntary manslaughter on Oct. 17, 2019, but was sentenced to two years of probation for evidence tampering.

It will be of interest to basketball fans that Bradford-Grey's cousin, Dana Barrows, played for the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1990s. Drafted in the first round in 1993 by the Seattle Supersonics, even though he was under six feet, Barrows was traded to the Sixers. In 1994 he scored 20.6 points per game and set an NBA record by making at least one three-pointer in 89 consecutive games from Dec. 23, 1994, until Jan. 10, 1996. 

For more information, visit mmwr.com. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com