FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GOVERNOR MARTIN O’MALLEY MAKES HISTORIC APPOINTMENTS TO THE MARYLAND COURT OF APPEALS
Highly qualified, diverse candidates also selected to serve the State on trial courts
ANNAPOLIS, MD (July 3, 2013) – Governor Martin O’Malley today announced two historic judicial appointments to the Maryland Court of Appeals, Maryland's highest court. The Governor named The Honorable Mary Ellen Barbera as Maryland’s first woman Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals and The Honorable Shirley M. Watts to fill the vacancy in the Sixth Appellate Judicial Circuit on the Court of Appeals, which represents Baltimore City. Together, these decisions give the Maryland Court of Appeals its first ever female majority, first female Chief Judge, and first African American female judge. In another historic moment, Maryland’s first-ever “Governor for a Day” Genea Harrison joined Governor O’Malley in notifying the appointees and offered her congratulations.
Judge Barbera has served on the Court since 2008, representing the Seventh Appellate Judicial Circuit in Montgomery County. She will succeed the Honorable Robert M. Bell as Chief Judge. Chief Judge Bell retires on July 6, 2013. Judge Shirley M. Watts has served on the Court of Special Appeals since 2011 and on the Circuit Court for Baltimore City from 2002 to 2011.
“I am pleased to appoint Judge Barbera to the Maryland Court of Appeals and Judge Watts to the Sixth Appellate Judicial Circuit on the Court of Appeals,” said Governor O’Malley. “Judge Barbera and Judge Watts represent the best of the Maryland bar and will do an outstanding job serving on the highest court in Maryland. Throughout their judicial careers, they have exhibited integrity, intelligence, and compassion. I am honored that we are not only making history today with these appointments, but that the hard work, talents and skills of these women will help us build on the progress we’re making together for the people of Maryland.”
Governor O’Malley added, “I also want to thank Chief Judge Robert M. Bell for his unmatched record of service to the Maryland judiciary. Chief Judge Bell has served for almost four decades in every level of our judicial system, and we are grateful for his passion for fairness and commitment to justice.”
Governor O’Malley also announced several appointments to the trial courts. Governor O’Malley appointed Joan Elizabeth Ryon to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County; Stacy Adele Mayer to the District Court for Baltimore County; and Lisa Angela Hall Johnson and Gregory Cronin Powell to the District Court for Prince George’s County. These appointees bring a diverse array of legal experiences to their new jobs. They also represent the ethnic and gender diversity of our great state.
All of the judges selected to serve in Maryland’s judiciary were recommended to Governor O'Malley by the appellate courts nominating commission and the trial court judicial nominating commissions.
In Maryland, our diversity is our greatest strength and the accomplishments of women are an integral part of our progress as a people. Since taking office, Governor O’Malley has made 118 judicial appointments including 52 women – 44% of the total judicial appointments.