District Court welcomes a new chief

Chief Judge John P. Morrissey

Prince George’s County District Court Judge John P. Morrissey is the new Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland. Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera named Judge Morrissey as chief in April.

Judge Morrissey, 49, was appointed as an associate judge for the District Court in 2005. He succeeds District Court Chief Judge Ben C. Clyburn, who retired May 31 after nearly two decades of Judiciary service. Chief Judge Clyburn was appointed to the bench in 1995 and named District Court Chief Judge in 2004.

As the administrative head of the statewide court, Judge Morrissey oversees the operations of 34 locations and nearly 2,000 employees, including 116 state judges. The District Court of Maryland has an annual budget of $165 million and processes more than 1.7 million cases a year. District Court is typically the first point of contact for members of the public who interact with the court system. Judge Morrissey is also managing the launch of the Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) initiative, which includes e-filing and other online capabilities, within the District Court system.

Judge Morrissey serves as a member of the Judicial Cabinet and the Judicial Council to advise Chief Judge Barbera on policies affecting the judicial system and to assist in the superintendence of the state courts. He also serves on the Judiciary’s Legislative Committee and is vice chair of the Maryland Access to Justice Commission.

Judge Morrissey has presided over domestic violence, criminal, motor vehicle, civil, landlord-tenant, and bail review cases. He is a member of the Maryland Judicial Ethics Committee, the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy, and chairs the Guidelines Committee. Judge Morrissey also serves on several technology committees created to integrate advanced technologies into the courts. He was named Judge of the Year in 2013-2014 by the Maryland State Bar Association Litigation Section.

Born in Washington, D.C., Judge Morrissey has been a resident of Prince George’s County for more than 40 years. He is a cum laude graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law, serving as editor-in-chief of the University of Baltimore Law Review. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, magna cum laude, from James Madison University. He is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association and the Prince George’s County Bar Association, among other legal and civic organizations.

An interview with Maryland District Court Chief Judge John P. Morrissey
By Talbot County District Judge William H. Adkins III

As you begin your tenure as chief judge of the District Court of Maryland, what do you see as some of your major goals?
My goal as the new chief judge of the District Court of Maryland is to implement the mission of the District Court in the most efficient and effective method. The mission is to provide equal and exact justice for all who are involved in litigation before the Court. To that end, it is my goal to motivate my judges, clerks, bailiffs and commissioners to review and improve our processes and to manage the technology advances that will be coming to our court in the next several years.

What challenges and what aspects of the job are you looking forward to?
I am most looking forward to meeting and visiting with the judges and clerks from across the state in the 34 different locations that comprise the District Court. Rather than a perspective of serving the citizens of Prince George's County, I am looking forward to implementing best practices in a statewide system.

How have your professional experiences thus far prepared you for this new role?
My career prior to assuming this office has been varied but has a consistent business theme running through it. I am looking forward to applying these business models to the District Court processes to more effectively serve the citizens of this state.

What are some of the major challenges facing the District Court and Maryland Judiciary now and in the coming years?
While there are many challenges facing the District Court, the successful implementation of appointed attorneys for initial appearances at each commissioner's office and the management and implementation of the Maryland Electronic Court initiative are paramount.