Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings on Wednesday announced her new administration’s leadership team, including a position dedicated to criminal justice reform and revisions to the state’s criminal code.
Jennings said that Charles M. Oberly III, former U.S. attorney for the District of Delaware, would join the state Department of Justice as a senior adviser, focusing on various criminal justice reform initiatives.
Oberly, a Democrat who served three terms as Delaware AG, served as the state’s top federal prosecutor for about seven years before he was abruptly fired by President Donald Trump in March 2017. As U.S. attorney, he orchestrated the effort to convict three defendants of cyberstalking resulting in death—a first for federal prosecutors—as well as a years-long bid to prosecute four former executives of Wilmington Trust Corp.
Oberly was rumored to be interested in returning to his former role as the state’s top law enforcement official when Matt Denn announced he would not seek re-election last year, but never entered the race after Jennings launched her candidacy.
Most recently, he helped lead an independent review of the deadly inmate uprising at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, which criticized chronic understaffing, a lack of communication and inadequate technology at the prison.
In his new role, Oberly is expected to work with prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges on a top-down rewrite of Delaware’s criminal code, among other initiatives.
“I told the people of Delaware—and the people of Delaware told me—that there need to be changes to the criminal justice system that will make it more fair and just while keeping people safe,” Jennings said in a statement. “I firmly believe that that is a full-time job and I have asked Charlie Oberly to use his experience and knowledge to oversee and coordinate our office’s efforts to work with our prosecutors, with the legislature, with law enforcement, with victims groups, with advocates, with the community and with the courts to make changes in our state’s criminal justice system to make it more fair”
Jennings also announced Wednesday that Alexander Mackler, currently an assistant U.S. attorney, will serve as chief deputy attorney general in May, following a period of active duty with the Army National Guard. Mackler, who finished first in his class at William & Mary Law School, has served as deputy legal counsel to former Vice President Joe Biden and deputy chief of staff to former Sen. Ted Kaufman.
“Serving as the chief deputy is a difficult and important job in the Department of Justice. I am thrilled that Alex has agreed to take on this critical role. His experience as a legal counsel to Vice President Biden coupled with his prosecutorial experience in the United States Attorney’s Office will help the office make Delaware a safer place for us all to live, work, and raise our families,” Jennings said.
A.J. Roop, who in recent years has headed DOJ’s Crime Strategies Unit, will become state prosecutor. Meanwhile, Allison Reardon will continue to serve as state solicitor until her planned retirement this spring, when Aaron Goldstein is expected to take over her role as head of the DOJ’s Civil Division, Jennings said.
Jennings office said that Abigail Layton and Sonia Augusthy will stay on as the heads of the Family Division and the Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust, respectively. Gary Patterson will remain as the DOJ’s chief of staff.
“I am thrilled to have all of these friends and colleagues join me. I will rely on their experience to implement the agenda of fairness and justice the people of Delaware are expecting from me,” she said.
Jennings took the oath of office privately to begin her term Jan. 1, as required by state law, but plans to hold a public swearing-in ceremony in the coming weeks.