Judge Michele D. Hotten celebrates anniversary of historic appointment

JUdge Michele D. Hotten
Judge Hotten speaks at her investiture, joined
by (from left to right) Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown,
Gov. Martin O’Malley and Chief Judge Robert
M. Bell of the Court of Appeals.

Judge Michele D. Hotten is celebrating her first anniversary on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. When she was sworn in last August by Gov. Martin O’Malley, she became the first African-American woman to hold a position on any appellate court in Maryland.

Serving for the Fourth Appellate Circuit (Prince George’s County), Judge Hotten filled the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge James P. Salmon.

Judge Hotten brings to the appellate court extensive experience as a trial judge, as well as a diverse legal background in both private practice and government service. For 15 years, she had been an associate judge on the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, where she served as the civil coordinating judge. Prior to joining the Circuit Court, she served for one year as an associate judge for the District Court for Prince George’s County.

More photos from Judge Hotten's anniversary

Investiture Video (wmv) 10MB

Judge Shirley M. Watts Elevated to Court of Special Appeals

Judge Shirley M. Watts
Judge Watts greets guests at her investiture. Seated
to her left are (from left to right) Chief Judge Peter B.
Krauser of the Court of Special Appeals, Chief Judge
Robert M. Bell of the Court of Appeals, U.S. Rep.
Elijah E. Cummings (7th District of Maryland), and
Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Judge Shirley M. Watts officially joined the Court of Special Appeals on Jan. 27, filling the vacancy representing Baltimore City created by the retirement of Judge Arrie W. Davis.

Before her appointment to the Court of Special Appeals, Judge Watts had served as an associate judge for the Circuit Court for Baltimore City since 2002. She began her legal career practicing criminal law. She then spent nine years in the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Maryland and served as a supervisory assistant public defender for four years. In 1997, Judge Watts left the Office of the Federal Public Defender to accept an appointment as a federal administrative law judge. She served as chief administrative law judge for the Office of Hearings and Appeals in Maryland from 1999 until 2002, when she was appointed to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

More photos from Judge Watts’ investiture

Judge Tillerson Adams Appointed County and
Circuit Administrative Judge

Judge Sheila R. Tillerson Adams
Judge Sheila R.
Tillerson Adams

Judge Sheila R. Tillerson Adams became administrative judge for Prince George’s County Circuit Court and the 7th Circuit (Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties) a day after her predecessor, Judge William D. Missouri, retired Sept. 3, 2010 after more than 25 years on the bench. Chief Judge Robert M. Bell of the Maryland Court of Appeals made the historic appointment.

As the county administrative judge, Judge Adams supervises all judges, officers and employees of the Prince George’s County Circuit Court and the court’s budget. As administrative judge for the 7th Circuit, she is also responsible for the administration of the courts within the judicial circuit and supervises the county administrative judges.

Judge Adams was appointed to the Prince George’s County District Court in June 1993 and she served until December 1996, when she was appointed to the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County. Before joining the bench, she was a staff attorney in the Legal Aid Bureau’s domestic law unit, 1982–1984; an assistant state’s attorney for Prince George’s County, 1984–1988, ascending to chief of the sexual assault unit; and deputy county attorney for Prince George’s County, 1988–1993.

Judge Murdock First Woman to Head Baltimore Circuit Court’s Criminal Division

Judge Marcella A. Holland
Judge M. Brooke Murdock

When Judge Marcella A. Holland, administrative judge for the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, announced the appointment of Associate Judge M. Brooke Murdock to head the court’s criminal division in January 2010, Judge Murdock became the first woman in the Baltimore City Circuit Court’s history to lead this division.

As the judge in charge of the criminal division, Judge Murdock is responsible for the assignment of judges and the management of the criminal docket; she will also chair the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

Judge Murdock was appointed to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City in 1997. At the time of her appointment, she was a principal with the law firm Ferguson, Schetelich, Heffernan & Murdock (now known as Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew). Before that, she was an assistant federal public defender for the District of Maryland, 1987–1991. Prior to that appointment, she had served as an investigative attorney with the International Trade Commission. From 1978–1979 and then again from 1983–1987, she served as an assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore City.

Maryland Conference of Circuit Judges Names New Leaders

 Judge Marcella A. Holland
Judge Marcella Holland

Baltimore City Circuit Judge Marcella A. Holland was elected chair and Queen Anne’s County Circuit Judge Thomas G. Ross was elected vice-chair of the Maryland Conference of Circuit Judges.

The Maryland Conference of Circuit Judges serves as a policy advisory body to Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, who oversees the 289 Circuit and District Court judges that comprise the Maryland Judiciary. The conference works collaboratively and in consultation with the chief judge in developing policies affecting the administration of the Circuit Courts. Its 16 members include the circuit administrative judge from each of the eight judicial circuits and one circuit judge elected from each judicial circuit.

Judge Holland is the first African-American woman to head the conference. She had been vice-chair of the conference since December 2008. Judge Holland and Judge Ross were both elected at a conference meeting in November 2010, and began their two-year terms effective Dec. 4, 2010.

Judge Holland succeeded Howard County Circuit Judge Diane O. Leasure, who had served as chair of the conference since 2008.

Judge Holland, who became an associate judge in 1997, has served as the administrative judge for the 8th Judicial Circuit (Baltimore City) since 2003. She was the first African-American woman administrative judge in Maryland. A native of Howard County, she previously worked as an assistant state’s attorney and is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law.

Judge Ross has been administrative judge for the 2nd Judicial Circuit (Caroline, Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties) since April 2009. He was appointed to the bench and named administrative judge for Queen Anne’s County in January 2004. Before his appointment, Judge Ross was in private practice and was a partner in the law firm of Ross and Powell from 1982 to 2003. After graduating from Florida State University, Judge Ross studied at the University of Baltimore School of Law and received his law degree in 1978. [No photo of Judge Ross was available at print time.]

Judge Getty Makes History with 90th Birthday on Appellate Bench

Judge Getty
Judge Getty (right) sits on the bench with Court
of Special Appeals colleagues Judge Patrick L.
Woodward (left) and Judge James R. Eyler (center).

Retired Judge James S. Getty celebrated his 90th birthday on March 7, and made history two days later when he became the oldest judge to sit on the bench for an appellate case in Maryland.

“I’ve always loved the job,” Judge Getty said. He began his career on the bench 46 years ago when he was sworn in as a judge for the Circuit Court for Allegany County on March 17, 1965. Judge Getty officially retired in 1995, and has announced his “retirement” a few more times after that, most recently, last March, but he has always offered to serve as a recalled judge should the need arise. Lately, Judge Getty has worked with Court of Special Appeals cases submitted on brief, but recently realized there was a chance to make history by sitting on a case.

“We are delighted that Judge Getty is willing to continue to serve on our court. He is always informed, instructive, and, by example, inspiring,” said Chief Judge Peter B. Krauser of the Court of Special Appeals.

In his life beyond the bench, Judge Getty has what retired Court of Special Appeals Judge J. Frederick Sharer describes as “a very acerbic, great wit,” and is a devoted family man who counts his two greatgrandsons as favorite golfing companions.

Court of Special Appeals Judges


The Court of Special Appeals
honored three retired judges who are still sitting with the court as recalled judges and who celebrated their 80th birthdays in December. From left to right at the luncheon are retired Judge Lawrence Rodowsky, retired Judge Raymond Thieme, and retired Judge Charles Moylan.




Judge Lloyd “Hot Dog” Simpkins a Genuine Eastern Shore Character

In the Long Term

This article is condensed from an article about retired Judge Lloyd Simpkins by Brice Stump, which originally appeared in the Daily Times. Reprinted with permission.

Retired Judge Lloyd "Hot Dog" Simpkins, 91, is Mount Vernon’s most well-known personality. The judge still sits on the bench from time to time, dispensing justice, serving the circuit court for Worcester, Dorchester, Wicomico and Somerset counties. He is the state’s oldest practicing judge.

"I always wanted to be a lawyer, and every lawyer wants to be a judge. Partly an ego thing," he said. "But not all lawyers make good judges. Sometime judges take themselves too seriously. You've got to use common sense. That's all that's really required. There's nothing magic about it.

Judge Lloyd Simpkins
Retired Somerset County Circuit Court Judge Lloyd "Hot Dog" Simpkins
stands beside "Good Intent," a skipjack he had built in 1969 by legendary
late boat builder James Richardson of Dorchester County. When Simpkins
couldn't sell the boat, he gave it away.

"Holding court is the easiest job in the world, no work to it. All you have to do is sit there and listen and treat them right, be fair. The best judge is a fair judge. There is no hard part -- damn-easiest way in the world to earn a livin'," he said. "Can't get a better job than this, good pay, hell of a retirement plan.

“Don't plan to retire now, but if I get tired of it, feel like I've had enough, then I'll quit. But I look forward to them giving me a call to come to work. I'm a 'pussy cat' judge, easygoin'," he said.

How did he get his nickname? “My father was a farmer and waterman and ran a concession stand at Cannon's bathing beach, which had a boardwalk and bathing house in the 1930s. He sold sandwiches and soft drinks, and I was big on hot dogs. He was an oyster packer, had his own oyster house. I still own part interest in the Mt. Vernon Packing Co., but we don't shuck oysters anymore -- no oysters. Hop Fisher was my partner in it for 50 years, and now he's gone,” Simpkins said. "I think it's my nickname that's made me well-known. I was about 3 years old when my dad gave it to me. Even in the Navy, all over the world, I'm known as Hot Dog.”