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For Immediate Release

Dorchester and Wicomico Courts Host Visit from Chief Judge

(ANNAPOLIS, Md. — May 9, 2014) The courts in Dorchester and Wicomico counties hosted Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera yesterday when she toured the courthouses and facilities in Cambridge and Salisbury.

Chief Judge Barbera and State Court Administrator Pamela Harris started the day at the Dorchester County Circuit Court. County Administrative Judge Brett Wilson welcomed them and said of the visit, “This is the first time since my investiture in June 2004 that the chief judge has visited our court, and I know it meant a lot to our staff and was a great morale booster. It also was a wonderful exchange. Chief Judge Barbera was genuinely interested in how our court operates and came prepared with thoughtful questions. It’s very obvious she’s thought a great deal about the future of the judicial system and is committed to keeping that which is good and improving those things which need to be improved.” The chief judge also met Judge S. James Sarbanes from Wicomico County, who was sitting on the Dorchester County Circuit Court bench Thursday.

Clerk of the Dorchester County Circuit Court Amy J. Craig introduced Chief Judge Barbera and Harris to her staff. “We were all blissfully excited that the chief judge and the state court administrator visited us,” Craig said. “The Clerk of Court’s office is made up of the people who work so hard behind the scenes, and this was a chance to bring them front and center. As hard as I try to get my staff to Annapolis for training and meetings, it’s not always possible, so it’s wonderful that ‘Annapolis’ came to see them.” Following the tour of the clerk’s office to meet the staff, Chief Judge Barbera and Harris met with Register of Wills Doris Lewis and her staff.

The next part of the tour was a visit to the Dorchester County District Court, where Chief Judge Barbera and Harris met with Judge Gerald Purnell, District 2 Administrative Judge. “It was an honor to host their visit and to introduce them to the wonderful, dedicated people I have the privilege of working with,” Judge Purnell said. “I think this visit allowed the chief judge and state court administrator to get to know us and see how our court functions while strengthening everyone’s sense of being part of a statewide network with a common goal to serve the people of Maryland. I think these visits are part of genuine effort on Chief Judge Barbera’s part to have a solid sense of all the individual courts as she makes decisions about the Judiciary as a whole.”

“It’s all about team effort here in District 2, and it was such a pleasure to show our new chief judge and state court administrator how we all get along and work together to get the work done,” said M. Carol Llewellyn-Jones, District Court Administrative Clerk for Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset, and Worcester counties.

In the afternoon, Chief Judge Barbera and Harris focused on Wicomico County, stopping first at the District Court on Baptist Street. Judge Bruce Wade led them on a tour of the courtrooms, offices, and facilities and introduced them to Judge John Rue and Judge Daniel Mumford. The chief judge and state court administrator also met Wicomico County Clerk Connie Hurley, her staff, and the District Court bailiffs.

“I think it’s terrific that she took the time not only to meet with the judges, but also to personally meet everyone on the staff,” Judge Wade said. “I was greatly impressed by Chief Judge Barbera’s questions and the sincere interest she has in how each court works and what issues and challenges we face.”

The last stop of the day was the Wicomico County Circuit Court on North Division Street, where the chief judge and state court administrator met with County Administrative Judge Kathleen Beckstead, Judge Leah J. Seaton, Clerk of Court Mark S. Bowen and his Chief Deputy Wendy M. Restein, Court Administrator Wendy Riley, and Deputy Court Administrator Cherie T. Meienschein. Following the meeting, Riley introduced them to the court staff while leading them on a short tour of the facilities ending at the Clerk of Court's offices.

After the tour, Judge Beckstead stated, “It was a rare and wonderful opportunity to have our chief judge visit, and allow us to share information and ideas directly, while strengthening our working relationship with her and the Administrative Office of the Courts. We emphasized the cohesiveness of our court, and stressed the importance of working well with all of our partners, the Clerk of Court’s office and Register of Wills, to develop and implement new and better ways to deliver judicial services to our community. Exciting things are beginning with new space available, and we are enthusiastic about seeking her support to resolve the limitations we are faced with.”

After they toured the clerk’s office and met the staff there, Bowen said, “It was truly an honor having Chief Judge Barbera and State Court Administrator Pam Harris visiting the clerk’s office today. Being from a smaller county, it was wonderful to see their genuine interest in my staff and the critical functions performed here each and every day. It is a day we all will not soon forget.” Chief Judge Barbera and Harris also met with staff from the Register of Wills Office.

“I had the privilege today of meeting and talking with many dedicated professionals who work so diligently behind the scenes. Their efforts allow our courts to operate and our judges to do their jobs,” Chief Judge Barbera said. “I was happy to be able to thank Judge Beckstead, Judge Wilson, and Judge Purnell for their leadership and excellent management as administrative judges. I also met with Judge Sarbanes and Judge Seaton for the Circuit Court, and Judge Wade, Judge Rue, and Judge Mumford for the District Court. They, like all the judges with whom I had the chance to talk, are the face of the Judiciary in their communities, and I applaud them for their outstanding service.”

Visiting all the State’s Circuit and District Courts has been a priority for Chief Judge Barbera since she was appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley last July to head Maryland’s court system.

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