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Kent and Queen Anne’s Courts Welcome Maryland’s Chief Judge
(CENTREVILLE, Md. – April 23, 2014) Kent County and Queen Anne’s County courts hosted Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera yesterday when she toured the courts and facilities in Chestertown and Centreville.
During the morning, Chief Judge Barbera and State Court Administrator Pamela Harris visited Kent County Circuit Court and District Court. “We are a small jurisdiction and it’s not often that we get a visit from the state’s chief judge. It is wonderful that Chief Judge Barbera has made it a priority to visit each court in the state and get to know how each of us functions and what our specific processes, issues, and challenges are,” said Kent County Circuit Judge Paul M. Bowman, county administrative judge. “It was a very productive meeting, and I’m looking forward to continuing this open communication.”
After touring Judge Bowman’s chambers and courtroom, Chief Judge Barbera visited the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office. “We talked about the unique aspects of providing services that larger jurisdictions do, but with a smaller staff. We all need to take on a variety of tasks and functions and fill in for each other whenever the need arises,” Clerk of the Kent County Circuit Court Mark Mumford said. “It was a great visit. Chief Judge Barbera was very down-to-earth and made sure she met everyone personally, and Pam Harris has been in the trenches, so to speak, for years in court administration.” Chief Judge Barbera and Harris also met Register of Wills Nancy Lee Jewell and her staff.
At the Kent County District Court, Chief Judge Barbera and Harris met County Clerk Debbie Williams and other staff members. “I’m very impressed that she took the time to visit and to meet each of us,” Williams said. Chief Judge Barbera then met in chambers with District Court Judge John E. Nunn, III, and observed proceedings in a courtroom where retired Judge Floyd Parks was presiding.
“I have the honor of working with dedicated people, and it was wonderful that the chief judge and the state court administrator got to meet the people who ‘work behind the scenes’ in our court,” Judge Nunn said. “We are very proud of our operations, and I’m pleased that Judge Barbera was so interested in them. This visit was a great way to share information and ideas directly and informally. We look forward to a productive relationship with Judge Barbera and the Administrative Office of the Courts as we strive to improve how we deliver judicial services to our community.”
In the afternoon, Chief Judge Barbera and Harris visited Queen Anne’s County, including the Circuit Court, District Court, and Orphans’ Court.
During a tour of the District Court for Queen Anne’s County, they met with District Judge Frank M. Kratovil Jr. “It was a privilege to welcome Chief Judge Barbera and Pam Harris and show them our facilities and introduce them to our wonderful staff who work efficiently and effectively to meet the needs of the citizens of Queen Anne’s County. We are all part of a system that has a common goal of providing fair, timely, and equal access to justice for people in our state. Having ongoing and open communication at all levels is vital, and her visit shows Judge Barbera’s dedication to improving services at all levels of courts in Maryland.”
Queen Anne’s County Clerk Debbie Kiel added, “We were very excited to meet Chief Judge Barbera and Pamela Harris. It's apparent they care about the clerks in the field and all the challenges we face. I would like to thank them for taking the time to see our facility and for speaking with us. We are so fortunate to have such dedicated leaders in the Maryland Judiciary.”
Chief Judge Barbera and Harris concluded the day with a tour of the historic circuit courthouse, the state’s oldest courthouse in continuous use. Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court Judge Thomas G. Ross, county and circuit administrative judge, showed draft plans for a new circuit courthouse to Chief Judge Barbera and Harris. Groundbreaking is planned for October 2015 with construction taking 18-24 months.
“The last time we built a new courthouse in Queen Anne’s County, George Washington was president,” Judge Ross said. “A new courthouse is a momentous step forward, and it was great to be able to discuss the plans and our goals in person. Chief Judge Barbera had a chance to meet county commissioners who were in a budget session, and it was wonderful to hear her enthusiastic support for these new facilities. We need more space and updated facilities so we can ensure the safety of everyone who has business with our courts, be compliant with ADA requirements, and serve our community more effectively, now and in the future.”
“Chief Judge Barbera and Pam Harris met everyone and visited every office, from the depths of our basement on up,” Clerk of Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court Scott MacGlashan said. “It was refreshing to have the leader of our courts take such interest in what we do every day. I was proud to have the chief judge and the state court administrator meet and talk with the wonderful people I serve with.”
Chief Judge Barbera and Harris also visited the offices for the Orphans’ Court and were greeted by Joseph V. DiPietro, the chief judge for the Orphans’ Court, and Orphans’ Court judges Kimberly Jean Cascia and Thomas M. Walsh. Plans are for the Register of Wills and the Orphans’ Court offices to return to the historic courthouse after it is renovated.
Visiting the state’s Circuit and District Courts has been a priority for Chief Judge Barbera since she was appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley last July to head Maryland’s court system. “Today, I had the honor to meet and talk with dedicated professionals at all levels. Without them, our courts could not operate and our judges could not do their jobs. It was a privilege to talk with each of them,” Chief Judge Barbera said. “This visit provided me the opportunity to meet Judge Nunn and Judge Kratovil, each of whom, as District Court judge of his respective county, truly is the face of the Judiciary to the people who come before him. I was glad, too, to personally thank Judge Ross for his excellent management of the Second Judicial Circuit, which includes Kent, Queen Anne’s, Cecil, Caroline, and Talbot counties, and Judge Bowman, who serves so effectively as Kent County administrative judge.”
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