Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Senior Judge Andre Davis

A top federal appellate judge native to Baltimore is leaving his post and title of “honorable” behind to represent the Baltimore City government, Mayor Catherine Pugh announced Wednesday morning.

The mayor kicked off her weekly press briefing with a surprise announcement: She’s found a new city solicitor to permanently replace George Nilson, who left City Hall last August shortly after it was discovered he had contracted work to a lawyer with documented Neo-Nazi views.

The new permanent city solicitor is Judge Andre M. Davis, a senior justice on the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Pugh said Davis “brings a wealth of legal knowledge and experience to his position, and Baltimore is very fortunate to retain such counsel.”

The mayor touted the federal judge’s track record and Baltimore roots. Davis attended school in East Baltimore as a child and graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law after getting his bachelor’s degree at Penn. During his career, he has also served as a judge in Baltimore City Circuit Court and as a housing manager in city government.

“As a Baltimore native and former Baltimore City circuit court judge, he is certainly familiar with this city,” Pugh said.

Acting Solicitor David Ralph has been filling in for Nilson since his abrupt departure last August. Ralph has led the city’s law department through high-profile efforts like the high-pressure consent decree negotiation process and attention-grabbing cases like the now-settled dispute between the founders of Light City and the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts.

Pugh said Ralph will stay on as deputy solicitor under Davis, and joked that “he’s never leaving” to show her appreciation for his work.

Ralph, standing next to Pugh during the announcement, said “it’s huge for the city” to have Davis come aboard.

“This appointment brings a prestige to the city that harkens back to the days of Simon Sobeloff” – the Baltimorean who became U.S. solicitor general and later chief judge of the same federal appeals court that Davis is now leaving.

“We’re all fortunate to have…an accomplished jurist like that here, and that just speaks volumes to the mayor’s leadership and ability to attract the best,” Ralph added.

Davis’ first day as the city’s chief attorney will be Sept. 1.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...