In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Charles Christopher Brown

The Maryland Carey Law community mourns the loss of Professor Emeritus Charles Christopher “Chris” Brown who passed away on Dec. 16. Brown was a beloved professor and legendary civil rights attorney, who co-founded the litigation firm Brown, Goldstein and Levy. 

“Chris was one of the most important lawyers in Maryland in the last half-century and a terrific teacher and scholar,” said Professor Michael Millemann.“He had such a profound effect on our school and on the lives of so many, especially the many whose basic rights Chris protected and thereby helped to lead productive lives.” 

A native of Dover, Delaware, Brown graduated from Georgetown Law in 1968 with the distinction of having been editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Law Review. He initially practiced poverty law in Washington, D.C. before moving to Baltimore and joining Legal Aid where he was instrumental in building the organization into a formidable fixture in the Baltimore legal landscape.  

In 1975, Brown joined the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Law. He taught Civil Procedure, Evidence, Constitutional Law and various legal writing courses. Meanwhile, he continued to practice and took multiple social security cases before the Supreme Court, arguing that “illegitimate children” are entitled to the same benefits rights as other children.   

As a professor, he trained hundreds of would-be lawyers who went on to become judges, politicians and partners at top firms. In a tribute to Brown upon his retirement, Elizabeth M. Kameen ’83 recalled how he imprinted in her that learning the law involves digging deeply to understand the complexity of seemingly simple language. “I call this learning process ‘going to the bones’ of the law,” she wrote. “Chris Brown taught me to go to the bones of the law. That is the art of teaching.” 

In 1982, still a full-time professor, he started Brown & Goldstein (later Brown, Goldstein and Levy) and became chief counsel for the ACLU of Maryland, scoring dozens of victories that advanced the rights of underrepresented people in the areas of voting rights, disability rights, housing, free speech, sexual orientation, the right to die, and other progressive causes. Today, the firm has more than 20 lawyers and continues to build on its deep sense of community and social responsibility. 

“Chris’s gentle personality masked a vigorous commitment to civil rights and social justice,” remembered Professor Don Gifford. “Despite his busy practice, no one exceeded his commitment to his students, his school, and his scholarship on race relations in Maryland.” 

Throughout his career, Brown was recognized with many prestigious honors, including admission into the American College of Trial Lawyers. The crowning jewel of his scholarship was his late-career book The Road to Jim Crow, The African American Struggle on Maryland’s Eastern Shore: 1860-1915, about which one reviewer wrote, “C. Christopher Brown has broken new ground and filled a long overlooked gap in Maryland history.” According to Brown’s family, the book “was one of his proudest accomplishments.”  

In his free time, Brown enjoyed gardening, body surfing, and watching the Orioles. He was predeceased by his loving wife Leslie and is survived by his children Adrian and Justin and four grandchildren.  

“The Maryland Carey Law community is deeply saddened by Chris’s passing,” said Dean Donald Tobin. “He was kind, talented, and driven to seek equal justice for all. We will sorely miss him.” 

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