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For Immediate Release

Caroline and Talbot County Courts Meet With Chief Judge

(EASTON, Md. – July 8, 2014) Judges and court professionals from Caroline County and Talbot County met with Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera when she toured the courts on Monday, July 7.

Chief Judge Barbera and State Court Administrator Pamela Harris began the day in Easton at the Talbot County Circuit Court, where they met retired Judge Broughton M. Earnest, who retired last November, but continues to serve as a recalled judge.

“It was more than a goodwill ambassador visit,” Judge Earnest said. “Chief Judge Barbera took time out of her busy schedule to travel here and to bring State Court Administrator Pam Harris to meet and get to know us and our court. The face-to-face time she provided with this visit fosters communication in a way that cannot be done by phone or email. It was less formal and very informative, and showed their strong interest in our court and our unique operations and concerns.” Judge Earnest said that Chief Judge Barbera was particularly interested in Talbot County’s re-entry court, which provides strict court supervision to help people successfully transition back into the community from state prison.

Clerk of Court Mary Ann Shortall said, “We were delighted to welcome Chief Judge Barbera and Pam Harris. Chief Judge Barbera was very attentive, and was particularly interested in the services we provide. This is a very dedicated group. We cross-train so we can provide our customers with every court service, and we do it cheerfully. Chief Judge Barbera remarked that we were all smiling, and we were, because we really enjoy our jobs and because we were so honored by her visit. It was an opportunity to highlight our team and our teamwork.”

Court Administrator Marilyn Saulsbury said, “This is a very good group of people. It was really nice to have her meet us, and it was delightful to meet her. I think it is important for Chief Judge Barbera and Pam Harris to see what each facility is like, and to be able to envision us and our court.”

Judge William H. Adkins, III greeted the chief judge and state court administrator at their next stop, the Talbot County District Court. During their tour of the facilities, Gerri Sponholtz, Talbot County District Court Supervisor, introduced Chief Judge Barbera and Harris to the staff.

“It was a very pleasant, very productive meeting,” Judge Adkins said. “It is important for the chief judge to see how things really are in each jurisdiction, observe the work of the courts where it happens, and meet the people who are working with the public every day. I am very pleased Chief Judge Barbera and Pam Harris have gone throughout the entire state to meet with everyone. The visits give them a better understanding of each court so that, when they are dealing with Judiciary-wide issues, they will know why certain solutions work in some jurisdictions but not in others,” Judge Adkins said, adding, “I also valued Chief Judge Barbera’s kind remarks to the clerks about their hard work. They truly appreciated her recognition of their efforts.”

In the afternoon, Chief Judge Barbera and Harris moved on to Denton, where they toured the Circuit Court for Caroline County.

“It was a wonderful visit. Chief Judge Barbera and Pam Harris were both so warm and gracious. They made it clear they really wanted to be here and to listen to the people who are really ‘the boots on the ground,’” said Judge Karen A. Murphy Jensen. “Her visits throughout the state are historical and have sent an important message. Today was a real morale booster for everyone, including me.”

“This was a great opportunity to show the chief judge a small court in action,” said Clerk of the Court for Caroline County Circuit Court Dale Minner. “We are a little removed out here in Caroline County, but it is important that the staff know that our leaders are interested and care about the smaller jurisdictions. The chief judge actually took the time to meet with and talk to and, most importantly, listen to each employee here in the Clerk’s Office. I have known Pam Harris for years and worked with her with the Mid-Atlantic Association for Court Management, and it was wonderful to welcome her for her first visit here as state court administrator. She has tremendous understanding of court operations and was very interested in how we work.”

Court Administrator for Caroline County Circuit Court Missy Gallagher said, “Chief Judge Barbera clearly seems to be a ‘people person.’ She put us all at ease, and met with and listened intently to everyone. She showed a genuine concern for everyone she met, which was refreshing.”

At the Caroline County District Court, Chief Judge Barbera and Harris met with Judge Douglas H. Everngam and toured the offices.

“It is nice to personally meet our head boss,” said Amily Bowman, County Clerk for the Caroline County District Court. “It was also nice to have Chief Judge Barbera and Pam Harris see us at work. The way a small court office operates is much, much different from the larger jurisdictions. Everyone here has a job, but you need to be able to cover everyone else’s jobs, too. That way, we can provide full, seamless service even when someone is not here. We really have to practice teamwork; we know how to work with each other and the resources we have at hand.”

“It has been a great honor for me today to get to know these dedicated professionals whose behind-the-scenes efforts make it possible for the judges to do their jobs,” Chief Judge Barbera said. “I also was thankful for the opportunity to meet with my colleagues on the bench, Judge Earnest, Judge Adkins, Judge Jensen, and Judge Everngam, and personally thank them and the wonderful staff of each courthouse for their service to the people of Caroline and Talbot Counties. Every person I met today represents the Judiciary so very well.”

Since she was appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley last July to head the Maryland Judiciary, Chief Judge Barbera has made it a priority to visit each of the State’s Circuit and District Courts.

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