Saltwater Portrait

What you don't know about John Brady

Sussex lawyer adds Clerk of Peace to long résumé
John Brady's law office walls are covered with plaques, certificates and photographs. BY RON MACARTHUR
November 22, 2012

Think you know everything there is to know about John Brady? You don't. Even though Brady is among the most recognizable people in Sussex County, there is much more to him than meets the eye.

Most people know he's been a lawyer in the county for two decades, but you probably didn't know he wanted to be an urban planner and was a certified 911 dispatcher. He is also sort of a sports savant who can recall the most trivial of sports statistics.

With the motto “Let the big man work for you,” Brady recently won the open Sussex County Clerk of the Peace seat. When Brady is sworn in to start 2013, he will have the distinction as the only person to hold three county row office positions. He's also won as a Democrat and a Republican.

Brady, 53, an attorney with a practice near Lewes, served as Sussex Recorder of Deeds from 2003 to 2011 and as Sussex Register in Chancery from 2001-03, the year the office was eliminated.

“I enjoy being an elected official, and when the happiest row office became available I thought it was a good opportunity to get back into public service,” he said.

Brady, because of his numerous jobs and the fact that he has litigated in nearly every court in Delaware - including all Justice of the Peace and Alderman courts, Family Court, Superior Court, Court of Common Pleas, Delaware Supreme Court and even federal court - is not a stranger.

He became interested in police dispatching while at the University of Richmond and ended up going to a component of the police academy and was a certified 911 dispatcher in Virginia. Up until last year, he retained his certification and worked as a 911 dispatcher during holidays to give full-time dispatchers time off.

He is among an elite group of lawyers - fewer than 1 percent - who are qualified to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. In that same vein, he's also an Eagle Scout; fewer than 1 percent of all Scouts attain that rank.

Brady's father served as register of wills in New Castle County, getting elected Nov. 6, 1962. John Brady was elected clerk of the peace exactly 50 years from that date - but register of wills is the one Sussex row office Brady has not held.

Brady set out to be an urban planner, but while serving as on the university security patrol he was forced to testify in court several times. “I realized I could do a better job and went to law school,” he said.

One of his longtime friends, David Brady, was in the Twin Towers in New York City and was killed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They met while John Brady was detaining David Brady for sword fighting with pulled-up signs after a night of drinking at the University of Richmond.

Brady moves south to begin law career

Brady moved south from the Wilmington area to Sussex County to take his first job as a lawyer. After graduating from Widener University School of Law and passing the bar in 1991 into 1992, he sent out 50 resumes to various law firms and ended up with an interview near Christmas with Tunnell & Raysor in Georgetown. He got a call back and started working for the firm just after the new year began.

Brady, who lives near Angola, has been around the block a time or two. He's served as solicitor for Milton and Dewey Beach, and currently serves as solicitor for the Town of Ellendale. He served as Delaware House of Representatives legislative attorney and has been on both sides of the aisle as an assistant public defender and as a deputy attorney general. He is a member of the State Board of Plumbing and the State Industrial Accident Board. Brady is also a member of the Bar of the United States Supreme Court.

He is a volunteer attorney for Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute in Lewes, is a member of the Long Neck Rotary Club and serves as a volunteer for American Red Cross. He has also done pro bono work for other organizations including CAMP Rehoboth. Within the next few weeks he will become associated with lawyer Julie Murray in Georgetown.

As a member of the State Board of Plumbing, which meets 10 times a year, Brady helps to oversee a variety of issues relating to the HVAC industry including licensing requirements, complaints and certifications. As a member of the State Industrial Accident Board, he has to set aside time for as many as 12 hearings a month to address workers' compensation issues related to work-site injuries. He was nominated for both seats by Gov. Jack Markell.

Brady is a graduate of Salesianum High School in Wilmington, University of Richmond and Widener University School of Law with a certificate from John F. Kennedy School of Harvard University.

Getting people on the right track

Brady said he finds the most satisfaction in his job when everyone leaves the courtroom happy. He says it's rare, but it does happen. “Those are the special moments,” he said.

He also gains satisfaction when he's able to help people get back on the right track, and he has numerous stories of clients who have turned their lives around. “For many it's the evil of drugs, and that sends them down a bad path. It's my goal to help them get treatment and become productive members of society again."

Still, he says he does not sugarcoat things to his clients.

“We are not doing enough in society to treat pill abusers; it's the most growing problem I see,” he said.

Brady said he is seeing more 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds who end up in court because of self-medication. “Pain is a big issue that leads people to the dark side,” he said.

Brady since he will be performing marriages as clerk of the peace, he will no longer represent people in divorce proceedings, which is a part of law he said he will not miss.

On a lighter side, Brady said Thanksgiving Day is one of the best days of the year for him. “My favorite foods are turkey, dressing and green bean casserole,” he said.

So, get out of the way and let the big man eat.


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