The Judicial Council serves as the principal policy advisory body to the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. In 2013, Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, the administrative head of the Maryland Judiciary, commissioned a comprehensive review of the governance and operational structure of the Maryland Judiciary, which led to the reconstitution of the Judicial Council, as well as the restructuring of the Judiciary’s myriad committees, subcommittees, and workgroups. The reconstituted Judicial Council and the new committee structure became effective January 1, 2015. Since that time, the Council and its committees have worked to advance the Judiciary’s mission to provide fair, efficient, and effective justice for all, with the strategic plan and eight key goals as their guide.
The Judicial Council consists of twenty-two members, including the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, the Chief Judge of the Court of Special Appeals, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Conference of Circuit Judges, the Chief Judge of the District Court, the State Court Administrator, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Conference of Circuit Court Clerks, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Conference of Circuit Court Administrators, the Chair of the Court of Appeals Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, the Chief Clerk of the District Court, the Chair of the Senior Judges Committee, three Circuit Court judges, four District Court judges, and two District Administrative Clerks. The Deputy State Court Administrator serves as Secretary to the Judicial Council. The Judicial Council’s Executive Committee, which meets at the request and direction of the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals to provide input to the Chief Judge on matters that arise between sessions of the Judicial Council, consists of the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, the Chief Judge of the Court of Special Appeals, the Chair of the Conference of Circuit Court Judges, the Chief Judge of the District Court, and the State Court Administrator.
As indicated above, a number of the members serve by virtue of their position, while the remaining members are appointed by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. Each appointed member of the Judicial Council is appointed to a two-year term, but can be reappointed to one additional consecutive two-year term as the Chief Judge deems necessary and appropriate. Unless otherwise directed by the Chief Judge, the Judicial Council meets bi-monthly.
As the highest governance body, the Judicial Council is the central hub for all Judiciary-wide policy changes, judicial reforms, legislative issues, and other internal and external developments that impact the administration of justice. To that end, the committees develop recommendations for the Judicial Council’s consideration and the Chief Judge’s approval that address policies, programs, and initiatives that help to ensure the effective and efficient administration of justice in Maryland. In addition, the Judicial Council takes up external matters that impact the Maryland Judiciary.
The diverse and focused members of the Judicial Council and its committees, including judges, magistrates, trial court clerks and administrators, and commissioners, represent all areas of the State. It is through their collective work that the Maryland Judiciary is fulfilling its mission and achieving its goals, all for the betterment of those who enter the courts and utilize the services the Judiciary offers.