On March 20, 2023, President Biden nominated Judge Brendan Hurson to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Judge Hurson has served as a United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Maryland since 2022. A lifelong public servant with deep ties to Maryland, Judge Huson would bring both judicial and federal public defense litigation experience to the federal district court bench.
Judge Hurson was born in Washington D.C., in 1977. In 2000, he earned his B.A. cum laude from Providence College, where he majored in Public and Community Service Studies. He earned his J.D. with honors from The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in 2005. Prior to law school, Judge Hurson served in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in California and taught middle school at St. Thomas More School in Washington, D.C.
After law school, Judge Hurson clerked for the Honorable Margaret B. Seymour of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. From 2006 to 2007, he worked as an associate at Schulman, Hershfield, and Gilden, PA, in Baltimore, Maryland, where he handled a variety of complex civil and criminal litigation matters.
In 2007, Judge Hurson joined the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Baltimore as a trial attorney and was subsequently promoted to Senior Litigation Counsel. For more than a decade, he defended individuals charged with federal felony and misdemeanor offenses, beginning at their initial appearance and continuing through their sentencing. He tried many cases to verdict and handled several appeals, appearing in both state and federal court. For example, in United States v. Heckstall 18-587-RDB (D. Md.), Judge Hurson defended a man charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl who suffered a debilitating addiction to narcotics. Judge Hurson worked with the defendant’s care providers and presented the defendant’s history to the presiding judge, who ultimately sentenced the defendant to time served and a three-year period of supervised release. From 2017-2018, Judge Hurson served as the Assistant Federal Public Defender in the United States Virgin Islands before returning to Maryland’s Federal Public Defender office.
In 2022, Judge Hurson was appointed a magistrate judge for the U.S. District of Maryland. The following cases are representative of his time on the bench:
In Njoroge et al. v. PrimaCare Partners, LLC, et al., the plaintiffs worked as caregivers for a company that provides in-home care for elderly clients. The plaintiffs sued their employer for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and similar Maryland labor laws, alleging that the employer engaged in overtime, recordkeeping, and wage violations. The plaintiffs filed a motion seeking to certify caregivers of the employer as a class for the purposes of the case. Judge Hurson granted the motion, holding that they and other potential plaintiffs were similarly situated and therefore could proceed as a class in the case. The case remains pending.
XL Specialty Ins. Co. v. Bighorn Constr. & Reclamation centered on two construction projects involving defendants who entered into agreements to perform work and retained multiple subcontractors and vendors to complete that work. The defendants allegedly stopped working on both projects and failed to pay multiple subcontractors and other vendors. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants breached their contractual obligations. Judge Hurson ruled on several motions and ordered that the defendants comply with the terms of the agreement, including allowing the plaintiffs to collect on the defendant’s collateral.
In Ovations Food Services, L.P. v. MD Acad of Sciences, 21-2838-BAH (D. Md. June 3, 2022), the plaintiff, a food management servicer for large entertainment facilities, entered into a contract with the defendant, a Maryland museum. Under its terms, the plaintiff was given an exclusive license to manage and operate the food and beverage concessions and catering services at the museum. The plaintiff sued the defendant for allegedly breaching the agreement and causing the plaintiff significant losses. The defendant filed a counter claim, alleging that the plaintiff had breached the agreement. Judge Hurson ruled on several discovery disputes and the matter was eventually settled.
The case of Davis v. Kim et al., No. 19-3605~BAH, 2022 WL 4290574 (D. Md. Sept. 16, 2022), stemmed from a physical altercation between the plaintiff and employees of a liquor store in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Responding officers from the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) handcuffed the plaintiff, detained him, and issued a citation for disorderly conduct. After the citation was dismissed, the plaintiff sued the liquor store, its employees, PGPD, and several PGPD officers, alleging a variety of state tort law claims and violations of his constitutional rights. The defendant officers filed a motion seeking to be dismissed from the case. Judge Hurson granted their motion, holding that the plaintiff failed to prove he had properly served the officers with the complaint. The liquor store employees filed a motion to drop the case. Judge Hurson granted their motion as well, finding that the plaintiff had failed to allege that the liquor store employees were acting as agents of the state as is required in suits alleging violations of constitutional rights. Additionally, Judge Hurson dismissed the claim against PGPD, holding that the plaintiff had also failed to demonstrate liability as required under federal law. Judge Hurson remanded the remaining state law claims to state court.
In Holman v. Greyhound Lines, Inc, the plaintiff, a bus passenger, sued the bus company and a tractor trailer company after an accident on an interstate highway in Maryland. The bus swerved to avoid a collision with the tractor trailer and left the roadway, causing injuries to the plaintiff. The parties filed multiple motions in the case, including a challenge by the tractor trailer company to a settlement reached between the plaintiff and the bus company. Judge Hurson held that the settlement between the plaintiff and the bus company complied with the Maryland Uniform Contribution Among Joint Tortfeasors Act. He also held that the tractor trailer company lacked standing to challenge the settlement agreement between the plaintiff and the bus company. Following Judge Hurson’s ruling, the plaintiff dropped her claim against the bus company. Additional passengers on the bus at the time of the incident sought to join the case. The tractor trailer company opposed the joinder and Judge Hurson agreed with their arguments, finding that the request to intervene did not comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The plaintiff settled all claims against the parties for an undisclosed sum.
In Topp v. James River Ins. Co., a passenger in a ride-sharing vehicle was injured after a collision with another car. The plaintiff sued the James River Insurance Company for allegedly breaking its contract to provide the plaintiff with underinsured motorist coverage. Judge Hurson decided motions addressing the admissibility of evidence of the plaintiff’s partial leg and toe amputations, evidence that the plaintiff had filed multiple prior lawsuits, evidence related to other injuries and illnesses the plaintiff suffered that were not alleged to be caused by the accident, and evidence regarding the plaintiff’s receipt of Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits. Judge Hurson presided over a jury trial, in which the jury awarded the plaintiff $300,000 in past medical expenses and non-economic damages.
In United States v. Pitts, 22-mj-02306-BAH (D. Md. Nov. 23, 2022), the defendant was charged with sex trafficking. Judge Hurson ruled on the criminal complaint and handled all preliminary matters related to detention. Judge Hurson ordered that the defendant be detained pending trial due to substantiated allegations of witness intimidation. The case remains pending.
Professional Activities and Accolades
Judge Hurson has long been recognized by the Maryland legal community for his work as a public defender. In 2004, he was awarded the Honorable Mention, Public Service Law Network, National Pro Bono Publico Award. Ten years later, in 2013, he received the Fred Warren Bennett Defender Award, Office of the Federal Public Defender, District of Maryland. Judge Hurson also currently serves on two committees of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, one that advises the court on issues related to the Criminal Justice Act panel and another that advises the court on issues related to probation and pretrial services.
Judge Hurson actively seeks to foster the next generation of the legal community. He has taught Criminal Procedure and Written and Oral Advocacy at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. Additionally, he took on a leadership role in the Office of the Federal Public Defender, mentoring new hires, and mentors new members of the Criminal Justice Act panel.