councilmember • Ward 3

Mary Cheh

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Councilmember Mary M. Cheh is committed to good government, law reform, and serving her constituents in Ward 3 and neighbors throughout the District. Mary is known as a common-sense investigator with a firm belief in the power of oversight and accountability. Prior to joining the Council, at the request of then-Councilmember Kathy Patterson, Mary served as pro bono special counsel to the Council of the District of Columbia’s Judiciary Committee during its 2003 investigation into police handling of protests and demonstrations. The report drafted as a result of her work led to model legislation that protects citizen’s rights and provides police officers with clear guidelines. She has also worked on international law reform projects in countries such as Tajikistan, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

Mary has served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C.; worked pro bono for the Centre for Applied Legal Studies in South Africa; served as a consultant to the National Institute of Justice and the President’s Commission on Organized Crime; chaired the subcommittee on criminal justice for the D.C. Circuit Court’s Task Force on Gender; and has served as a member of the Rules Committee of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and on the Board of Directors of the National Institute of Military Justice. A former member of the ACLU Board and current Vice-Chair of the ACLU Screening Committee, Mary Cheh is an avid defender of civil liberties. She was also a Founder of the Animal Welfare Project, which worked with community leaders, activists, and government officials to craft model animal welfare legislation. Mary also founded Project Re-Entry, a pro bono law reform project that aims to reduce recidivism and assist ex-offenders in their return to productive lives.

As a tenured law professor at George Washington University, Mary serves as the Elyce Zenoff Research Professor of Law while teaching and writing primarily in the areas of constitutional law and criminal procedure. She chairs the GW Law Public Interest Committee, which assists students in providing legal services to the underserved, and she works with students on community and environmental pro bono projects. Ms. Cheh joined the GW Law School faculty in 1979 after being in private practice with Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Kampelman in Washington, D.C. and serving as a law clerk to the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. Mary has been honored by the University with an Award for Community Service and with a teaching award from the Law Association for Women.

Finally, Mary has lived in Ward 3 since she moved to the District in the late 1970s. She currently resides in the Forest Hills neighborhood. Mary’s two daughters, Jane and Nora Lewis, were born and raised here, both attending Murch Elementary and Georgetown Day School. Mary is a former member of the Murch after-school board, volunteered as a Stoddert soccer coach (and a licensed referee), and is a former member of the Stoddert Board. Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Douglass College and holds law degrees from Rutgers University and Harvard Law School. She is admitted to practice in D.C., New Jersey, Massachusetts, and before federal courts.

Compress biography

  • Term

  • Political Affiliation

    Democratic Party

  • Time on Council

    2007 to present

  • Office

    1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20004


Dee Smith
(202) 724-8062

Abigail McLean
(202) 724-8062

Aukima Benjamin

Michael Porcello

Amy Sinnenberg
(202) 724-8062