Cumberland Times-News

Local News

October 31, 2013

State’s new chief judge visits Allegany, Garrett, Frederick and Washington county courts

CUMBERLAND — Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera met with Allegany, Garrett, Frederick and Washington County Circuit Court and District Court judges and personnel as part of her statewide tour of courts and facilities.

“I’m thankful to my fellow judges who carved time from their very busy dockets for this visit,” Barbera said. “I appreciate the opportunity to meet face to face and learn firsthand about what our courts need to provide fair, timely and easy access to justice here and all over Maryland.”

Barbera has traveled to almost half the state’s court facilities since early July, when Gov. Martin O’Malley appointed her to lead the state’s court system.

The chief judge noted that aging, cramped facilities and outdated technologies and some of the historic buildings are issues for those courts.  

Allegany County Circuit Judge Gary G. Leasure agreed. “We are proud of the long local history of our courts and of our historic courthouses,” said Leasure, who is the administrative judge for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties) and for Allegany County. “But old structures present challenges, not the least of which is simply having enough space to operate. We also face the issues of providing easy access for our visitors, ensuring public safety for everyone in our facilities, and meeting the needs of 21st century citizens with facilities that stretch back almost 200 hundred years and technology that becomes outdated on a frequent basis.”

Garrett County Circuit Judge James Sherbin added, “It was an honor to welcome our new chief judge to Oakland. We’ve had a very productive meeting.” Sherbin, who is Garrett County’s administrative judge, added, “It’s important to have open and ongoing discussions about issues that we have in our individual courts as well as a chance to share thoughts about challenges we face statewide. I think this has been a wonderful beginning to an ongoing conversation.”

Washington County Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. said, “This was not only a chance for us to meet with the chief judge, but it was a wonderful opportunity to introduce her to the dedicated people who work behind the scenes in our courts.” Long is administrative judge for Washington County.

“It was wonderful to talk again with familiar colleagues, but it’s also been a privilege to meet so many fine professionals at every level,” Barbera said. “I’ve been especially impressed with the hard-working people whose diligent efforts enable our judges to do their work and our courts to operate.”

“It was a pleasure having Chief Judge Barbera tour our facilities and meet our personnel. I think that there is a symbolic importance in the chief judge visiting us where we live and work,” said Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr., county administrative judge for the Frederick County Circuit Court. “We recognize that we are not a single unit, but are part of a statewide network stretching across all communities to serve all Marylanders. As such, we are fortunate to have a good working relationship with our county government as well as the judiciary as we plan on the expansion and reorganization of our current facility to accommodate our growing needs.”

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