These are excerpts from the letters of congratulations Chief Judge Robert M. Bell received this spring, and which were published in the program for the gala held in his honor April 2013.

“As Marylanders, as Americans, as a community, we share a belief in the dignity of every individual. … Through his rulings and his actions, Chief Judge Bell exemplified the beliefs that we share. … His unconditional love for his fellow man and his commitment to public service has guided his life’s work. Chief Judge Bell championed many initiatives benefiting our court system, and laid an integral foundation of justice for generations to come. His service truly affirms that we progress as a people, not on the weakness, but on the strength of our neighbors.”
          Governor Martin O’Malley

“Over the course of your career, you set a bold and shining example – always dedicated to ensuring that each and every Marylander was treated equally under the law.”
          Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown

“Of your many achievements throughout your long and distinguished career, I am most appreciative of your efforts to combat domestic violence, especially the creation in 2006 of the statewide database providing faster access to protective and peace orders. Further, your leadership in providing pro bono legal assistance to homeowners facing predatory mortgage foreclosures during this recent crisis permitted many families to remain in their homes. … A pioneer, a scholar and jurist-extraordinaire, a friend and a mentor to so many of us.”
          United States Senator Barbara A. Mikulski

“Time and time again, you have faced challenges and have seized the opportunity to find solutions with grace, intellect and compassion. You have rallied the legal community and expanded opportunities for those with few options and no voice. The citizens of Maryland have benefited from your strong commitment to equal justice under the law.”
          United States Senator Benjamin L. Cardin

“...The initiatives and programs that you have instituted and championed will be felt in Maryland for years to come. Your plan for assistance to self-represented litigants to navigate the court system, your promotion of alternative dispute resolution and mediation to resolve conflicts before they escalate, your support for the growth of drug courts, your advocacy for protection of persons experiencing domestic violence … and your appeal to attorneys to provide pro bono counsel to homeowners at risk of foreclosure will transform lives now and in the years to come.”
          United States Representative Elijah E. Cummings

“I know that history will show the legacy of a man that did not shy away from, but embraced his experiences in life and used them to be a champion for equality, justice and truth.”
          Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler

“…Thank you for your incredible commitment to public service. The Maryland Judiciary will certainly miss your zealous and effective advocacy on their behalf – as will we all.”
          President of the Maryland Senate Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.

“Reflecting on your illustrious career, you have indeed constructed the ‘bridge of access to justice’ and laid the foundation for generations of young lawyers and all Marylanders to follow.”
          Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates Michael E. Busch

“Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your compassion. And thank you for your dedication and bravery, which have enriched more lives than you can possibly imagine. … You will always be remembered for your commitment to justice and equality.”
          Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

“The ABA commends Judge Bell for his many outstanding achievements and for his unstinting efforts on behalf of the legal profession, particularly the development of young lawyers, as a starting place for many of the profession’s future leaders. Judge Bell’s work in promoting civil rights and diversity is legendary, along with developing, consolidating, coordinating and implementing policy initiatives to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters.”
          American Bar Association President Laurel G. Bellows

“Without question, Chief Judge Bell has provided a clear model of excellence on being a lawyer, judge, and chief judge.”
          National Bar Association President John Page

“I have always admired your steadfast dedication to the promotion of equal access to justice, and a greater understanding on the part of the public to the role of the judiciary. During these times of shrinking budgets and ever-growing need, your leadership and innovative initiatives have positioned Maryland to be a national leader, not only in ideas, but in solutions. As I travel around the country and meet Bar leaders, I am always amazed by the number of lawyers in other jurisdictions who use the Maryland model to promote access to justice. This is due, in no small part, to your many years of work and dedication to these ideals.”
          Maryland State Bar Association President John P. Kudel

“…You ensured equal access to all. You elevated women to positions of authority – appointing a number to be circuit administrative judge or county administrative judge. Your advancement of women and minorities within the Judiciary led us to honor you with our Rita C. Davidson Award in 2001. You commitment to diversity in leadership went deeper, however. You also provided every branch of the courts with a voice in decision making, melding the groups into ‘One Judiciary.’”
          Women’s Bar Association of Maryland President Elaine Patrick

“As a young student at Baltimore’s Dunbar High School, you participated in some of the early civil rights protests in Maryland, got arrested for your trouble, and together with a few other students, fought back against injustice. … Plaudits to you for your many achievements in a long and illustrious career and for the outstanding contributions you made to the people of Maryland. … You have honored Alma Mater with your distinguished career and by your many accomplishments. We are pleased to be able to call you a son of Morgan and proud to have placed your name on the University’s Robert M. Bell Center for Civil Rights in Education.”
          Morgan State University President David Wilson