Maryland Judiciary Creates Ombudsman Position
(Annapolis, MD — August 30, 2005) Responding to
a recommendation from the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness,
Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell has created an
ombudsman position for the Judiciary. In the final report the Commission
issued to the Court of Appeals at a hearing on June 15, 2004, the Commission
proposed that an ombudsman could promote the courts’ position
and programs concerning racial, ethnic, and economic fairness in the
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The ombudsman will serve as an advocate for fairness, answering individuals’
questions, helping resolve individuals’ concerns and issues, and
working to make the courts more user-friendly.
Judge Bell assigned William L. Howard, Ed.D., to serve as the Judiciary’s
first ombudsman. Dr. Howard, who began in the role June 29, staffed
the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness.
Formed in 2002, the Commission presented its findings to the Court of
Appeals, the Conference of Circuit Judges, District Court administrative
judges, the Judicial Council, and the Judicial Cabinet.
The ombudsman’s role is completely independent of the roles of
the Judicial Disabilities Commission, Attorney Grievance Commission,
and other systems already in place to deal with specific issues within
the court system.
“This will help build the public’s confidence in the Judiciary,”
said Dr. Howard, who sees his role as one of problem-solving and communication.
“People really just want a place to vent, and I can listen.”
During more than 25 years of experience working in the circuit courts
and the Administrative Office of the Courts Dr. Howard has worked as
a juvenile administrator, chief deputy clerk, and court administrator
of Baltimore City Circuit Court and as an assistant administrator for
the Administrative Office of the Courts.
To keep the entire process confidential, questions and concerns will
be accepted by phone and mail, but not electronically, Dr. Howard said.
He may be contacted at 410-260-1298 or by writing to him at the Robert
C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building, 361 Rowe Blvd., Annapolis, Md.,
Please contact the Court Information Office at 410-260-1488 for