Following Chief Judge Robert M. Bell’s retirement from the Maryland Court of Appeals, Maryland’s highest state court, Governor Martin O’Malley appointed Judge Mary Ellen Barbera to head the state’s highest court. Governor O’Malley also appointed Court of Special Appeals Judge Shirley M. Watts to take the seat of retiring Chief Judge Bell, bringing the number of women on the highest court to four. For the first time in history, women now hold a majority of court seats (4 of 7).
In the United States, 19 other states have women serving as the Chief Judge.
Chief Judge Barbera was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2008. She served as legal counsel to Governor Glendening and was a judge on the Court of Special Appeals. Judge Watts was appointed to the Court of Special Appeals in 2011, following nine years as a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge.