Judicial Appointments of Women Law Professors Make History in Maryland

coasealGovernor Martin O’Malley recently appointed two women to the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. The appointments of Mary Ellen Barbera as Chief Judge and Shirley M. Watts have made history in several ways. First, Judge Barbera is the first woman to serve as Chief Judge on Maryland’s highest court. Judge Watts is the first African American woman to serve on the Court. And for the first time in history, women make up a majority of the judges on the Maryland Court of Appeals. Both of the new women appointees have ties to higher education.

barberaJudge Barbera is a graduate of Towson State University and the University of Maryland School of Law. She served as a criminal appeals attorney for the state’s attorney general and as legal counsel to Governor Parris Glendening. She became a judge in 2002 and was named to the Court of Appeals in 2008.

Judge Barbera has taught at both American University in Washington, D.C. and the University of Baltimore.

Watts-ShirleyShirley Watts served on the circuit court in Baltimore for nine years before being appointed in 2011 to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Earlier in her career she was an assistant state’s attorney, a federal administrative law judge, and as a public defender for the federal court system.

Judge Watts is a graduate of Howard University and the Rutgers University School of Law. She has taught at the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Filed Under: MilestonesNews


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