Cumberland Times-News

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December 7, 2013

Stafford ending 37-year career in District Court

Administrative clerk headed judicial operations in Allegany, Garrett counties

CUMBERLAND — Kathy Stafford, administrative clerk for District Court of Maryland District 12 since 1986, has announced her retirement following her career of more than 37 years of service in the district court system.

Beginning her employment in Allegany County District Court as an occasional contractual worker filling in for maternity leave positions, Stafford also was a substitute teacher for 18 months. Her full-time employment with district court began in August 1978, two years after she became the bride of James Stafford, who recently retired as the chief of Allegany County’s Transit Division.

“I asked Jimmy recently how he liked retirement and he said it would be a lot better if I were with him. So I thought after 37-plus years of service, I would join him,” she said.

Kathy has worked with all the district court judges who have served in the state’s two westernmost counties since the district court system began in July 1971. Judge Miller Bowen and the late Judge Milt Gerson were on the bench when she began her career. She also enjoyed working with Judges Paul Stakem and W. Timothy Finan and Administrative Judge Edward Malloy and Associate Judge H. Jack Price Jr., who now preside in Allegany County District Court.

Stafford pointed to the dedicated, hard-working staff in both counties as being instrumental in her successful service. She became administrative clerk in January 1986 with the retirement of the late James S. Stafford Sr., her father-in-law.

“District court and the judiciary have been an absolutely wonderful employer. The opportunity they gave me and the confidence they have put in me have made a wonderful career,” she said.

“I have always had a wonderful staff and the caliber of these employees has been superb. I could not have done the job I’ve done in two counties without these diligent staffs. They are hard-working dedicated staffs who work with you. All of the district court employees are very customer-oriented,” said Stafford, who has a reputation working long hours all week and even weekends. She said she works an average of 94 hours every two weeks.

Stafford began her career when district court was located at Prospect Square, then relocated with the offices to Pershing Street in February 1987, and remained there until the current district court building opened on South Liberty Street in 2009.

“When I began my career, everything was done manually or on typewriters. We even did traffic tickets on 5-by-8 cards. Now everything is done on computers,” said Stafford, who oversees 23 district court employees in Allegany County and nine in Garrett, including bailiffs at each location.

“When we left Prospect Square, we needed more space and Pershing Street was good for the advances into the computer system. Back then we had five bond reviews a week. Now, we have at least 10 bail reviews daily.”  

Stafford said she will miss “the people locally and down the road that I’ve met over the years, the challenges of dealing with the public and my work — that will be a little bit of an adjustment,” she laughed.

“What I won’t miss is trying to predict the weather and figuring out whether we should open court, delay court, considering the staff and the public coming in to the court. That part I won’t miss at all.”

Stafford stressed the camaraderie and teamwork that she has enjoyed over the past nearly four decades. “The success of my career has come from the trust and confidence and support the staff has had in me. They take pride in the work we do and it does make a difference in people’s lives by the proper handling of legal matters,” she said.  

Malloy noted Stafford’s career.

“Kathy probably has more knowledge of how the district court works than anyone else in the state and has been an invaluable help to me in managing the courts in Allegany and Garrett County. She often gets calls from around the state from other administrative clerks asking for her advice and counsel.

“Kathy is probably the most dedicated public em-ployee I know. She is usually the first one to arrive at court and the last one to leave and is in working on weekends quite often.

“She cares about the citizens who use the court and she cares about doing her job in the most professional manner possible. She will be truly missed by all of the district court family,”  Malloy said.

Price added, “Kathy’s dedication to the district court extends not only to the court staff and administration but also to those individuals who appear before the court, litigants and attorneys alike. It has been my pleasure not only to work with her as a judge but also as an attorney practicing in the court for many years before my appointment to the bench.”

Stafford’s last official day of employment is Dec. 31 although her work schedule will conclude several days earlier.

Her successor is Amy Bosley, who was appointed by Maryland District Court Chief Judge Ben Clyburn in October at the recommendation of Malloy.

Bosley is scheduled to be sworn in Monday.

Stafford and her husband plan to continue their extensive involvement in community and church matters and the annual fundraising Hooley Plunge in March. They will also have time to spend with their son Brad, daughter Kim and her husband and their two children.

“I know what we will be doing,” said Stafford. “We learned after I decided to retire that Kim is pregnant with twins.”

Jeffrey Alderton may be contacted at jlalderton@times-news.com.

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