Evelyn O. A. Darden
Ms. Darden, a resident of Howard County and a native of Annapolis, Maryland, is the 11th African American woman ever to be admitted to the Maryland Bar. A graduate of the Morgan State University and the University of Maryland School of Law, she completed the Harvard Law School Institute for Lawyers with a special emphasis on Class Action Torts and Constitution Law. She is the founder of Addison-Darden, a mother-son law firm, established April 1, 1988.
Her legal career began in 1976, and over four decades, included representation at the local, state and federal levels. Her early legal training began at Johnson and Smith under the tutelage of the Honorable Judge Kenneth L. Johnson, a trail blazing civil rights attorney. As an associate at Johnson and Smith, and later as supervisory trial attorney at the Baltimore District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Ms. Darden was responsible for several major class action Title VII cases against Fortune 500 companies in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. Her class action civil rights cases focused primarily on behalf of Black and female police officers, firefighters, longshoremen, and steel workers in Maryland and across the nation who had been deprived of equal pay, promotions and other benefits, and who had suffered the consequences of wrongful discharge, demotions and failure to hire. As a result of these Title VII class action lawsuits, sweeping changes were made in the Baltimore City Police Department and Fire Department. Black Police Chiefs, Black Fire Chiefs and other high-ranking officers across the United States owe a debt of gratitude to the pioneering civil rights litigation of Evelyn Darden and her mentor, Judge Johnson.
Ms. Darden was one of the first African American women to serve as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maryland. In January 1983, she accompanied Kurt L. Schmoke to the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office and was assigned to the Special Narcotics and Homicide units. She prosecuted numerous jury trials and was responsible for eliminating several major drug rings in Baltimore City.
Her extensive trial experience included a five year partnership with renowned trial attorney, Johnny Cochran who nominated her for the National Trial Lawyer of the Year for Public Justice Award In 2002. Her trial experience also earned her a two-term position on the Board of Governors for the Maryland Trial Attorneys. There she served on the legislative committee and was instrumental in lobbying efforts that resulted in the repeal of the Parent-Child Immunity Law in Maryland. In private practice, she has consistently focused on keeping Maryland families safe and securing justice and large monetary awards for victims of negligence.
Ms. Darden earned national recognition and the Maryland Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for the landmark settlement in Gary J. v. State of Maryland, for 4.5 million dollars including an education fund for 900 male juveniles who were physically and emotionally abused at the Juvenile Boot Camps in Western Maryland.
Ms. Darden is a maternal descendant of Marylander, Rev. Samuel Green, Sr., 1802 - 1877, an Underground Railroad Conductor, Visionary Founder of Morgan State University and first cousin to Harriet Tubman. (Rev. Green was the only person ever caught, arrested and sentenced to 10 years in State Penitentiary in 1857 for possessing an anti-slavery publication, Uncle Tom's Cabin.) Ms. Darden continues to serve the community as a volunteer, providing Pro Bono counsel for several organizations and as an international motivational and cultural awareness speaker. A video documenting Ms. Darden's accomplishments may be found online on the vimeo website. Ms.Darden video
"Motivation, determination, perseverance, the North Star on the road less traveled will ultimately lead to a successful journey, by His Grace."
Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 2020.