October 16, 2007

Longtime Maryland State Environmental Enforcement Lawyer Rosewin Sweeney Joins Venable

5 min

Ms. Sweeney leaves state government after 17 years with MD Attorney General's office and Dept. of Environment; helped direct numerous important environmental prosecutions, including three largest negotiated settlements and penalties ever collected by MDE under Maryland state law.

BALTIMORE, MD (October 16, 2007) - Venable LLP announced that Mary Rosewin Sweeney, a member of the Maryland Attorney General's office who has spent the last 17 years enforcing the state's environmental laws for the Maryland Department of the Environment, will join the firm's national Environmental Practice Group as a partner in Venable's Baltimore office.

In addition to her enforcement experience, Ms. Sweeney, 52, brings substantial experience with water supply issues, water and sewer planning, development moratoria, and other environmental aspects of planning and development.

For the past seven years, Ms. Sweeney has served as Principal Counsel of the Maryland Department of the Environment, which is charged with protecting and restoring the state's air, land, and water resources, while fostering economic development that ensures healthy and safe communities.

Ms. Sweeney supervised 20 Assistant Attorneys General representing the MDE on all aspects of environmental law, including legislative and regulatory initiatives, as well as civil prosecution and enforcement. She also represented MDE in numerous appeals before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

In announcing Ms. Sweeney's departure, MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson said, "The Department of the Environment has been extremely fortunate to have the talent and expertise of a lawyer of the caliber of Ms. Sweeney to lead MDE's Office of the Attorney General. Ms. Sweeney is a persuasive, aggressive and thoughtful lawyer and has been an integral part of MDE's efforts to protect the environment and public health in Maryland."

During Ms. Sweeney's tenure as Principal Counsel, the MDE secured the three largest negotiated settlements and/or penalties for environmental violations ever collected under Maryland state law. She has also been involved in federal prosecutions in which MDE acted as a co-plaintiff with the federal government. The U.S. Department of Justice's Environmental and Natural Resources Division honored Ms. Sweeney in 2006 for her efforts.

Ms. Sweeney also helped to enjoin the continued operation of a radioactive materials manufacturing license, in the case of Neutron Products, Inc. v. Maryland Department of the Environment. She has also defended against challenges to state environmental regulations on multiple occasions.

Her impact on environmental matters has also extended well beyond Maryland's borders. In 2004, Ms. Sweeney traveled to Thailand to participate in an environmental workshop in Bangkok sponsored by the United States-Asia Environmental Partnership, Exchange Program for Sustainable Growth. At the program, in which she was the only non-scientist asked to speak, she addressed how Thailand might more creatively and effectively enforce its existing environmental laws.

In coming to Venable, Ms. Sweeney joins a national environmental practice that is noted for providing pro-active counsel and regulatory advice as well as vigorous defense of environmental prosecution under federal and state laws. The firm is unique in boasting two former Chiefs of the Justice Department's Environmental Crimes Section - Judson Starr, who co-chairs the Environmental group, and Joseph Block.

Thomas Lingan, who co-chairs the Environmental group with Mr. Starr, noted of Ms. Sweeney's addition, "In our practice, especially when it comes to environmental enforcement, someone of Rosewin Sweeney's stature enters private practice very infrequently, maybe once a decade if that."

"Rosewin has a well-earned reputation as a highly accomplished, fair and ethical lawyer, with a working grasp of state and federal environmental regulations and enforcement that will make her invaluable to clients," Mr. Lingan added. "And knowing that she has worked opposite a number of our attorneys in matters before the Maryland Department of the Environment, we are honored that she has made us her first choice in rejoining the private sector."

A lifelong Baltimore resident, Ms. Sweeney reflected on leaving government service: "After dedicating so much of my career to protecting my state and its environmental resources, and safeguarding its citizens, I am energized by the prospect of continuing to focus on progressive environmental work, on a challenging new platform," Ms. Sweeney said.

She noted her familiarity with Venable, having faced a number of the firm's attorneys on various matters at the MDE. "I've always been impressed not only with their obvious experience in environmental law, but with their utmost civility and professional courtesy," she said. "I am looking forward to joining Venable's side of the table."

Ms. Sweeney added that her exit from the Office of the Attorney General is a bit bittersweet, marking the end of a "Sweeney era" of sorts. Between her uncle Robert F. Sweeney (former Chief Judge of the Maryland District Court) and her sister Kathleen M. Sweeney (Baltimore City District Court Judge), she noted that someone in her family has served under six Maryland Attorneys General since the 1960s. "It's been a long, great, run," she said.

From 1996-2000, Ms. Sweeney served as MDE Deputy Counsel and, from 1990 to 1996, as Assistant Attorney General.

Ms. Sweeney received her J.D., cum laude, from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1984, her M.A. (History) from John Hopkins University in 1980, and her A.B. from Georgetown University in 1977. She is often asked to speak or teach on the topic of environmental compliance and enforcement.

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