The District Court for Anne Arundel County bench:
a history with a personal connection

By Judge Jonas D. Legum, Anne Arundel County District Court

District Court: “. . . the Court where the jurisdiction is inferior, but the attitude is superior!”
—The Honorable Robert S. Heise
JUdge Jonas D. Legum
Judge Jonas D.
Legum

Ever since Judge Williams Adkins III wrote an article in the 2009 winter edition of Justice Matters magazine, I began to think about the history of the Anne Arundel County District Court Bench. Judge Adkins’ article detailed the start of the Maryland District Court in July 1971, and its original 73 judges, including the five in Anne Arundel County. The District Court was created to replace the People’s Court which, in turn, had been created in 1964 to replace the Magistrates’ Court.

I feel like I have a life-long connection with the District Court because my father, Edward “Udie” Legum, was one of three bail bondsmen in Anne Arundel County in the 1950s, when I was a small child (Carroll Hynson Sr. of Annapolis, and Joe Cox in Glen Burnie were the others). My father would sometimes take me with him when he would pick up a person he just posted bond for at the Annapolis City Police jail on Duke of Gloucester, where City Hall now stands, and the Anne Arundel County Detention Center on Calvert Street, where the Arundel Center now stands. He also took me to Magistrates’ and People’s Court locations in the basement of the Circuit Court, and the Anne Arundel County Police stations in Edgewater and Millersville. I never attended night court in Ferndale.

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It is amazing to find out how much information is contained in the Maryland Reports and Maryland Appellate Reports, besides cases and rules changes. In the front of each bound volume are the names of the judges who sit on the Court of Appeals, Court of Special Appeals, Circuit Court and District Court. Prior to 244 Md., only the Court of Appeals and Circuit Court judges were listed. Beginning with 244 Md., the judges of the Court of Special Appeals, which was created in 1967, were listed; and beginning with 263 Md., the judges of the District Court were listed.

Except for my personal recollection, and speaking with older judges, all of my research comes from the front of the Reports. In the mid-1990s, the Reports began listing the swearing in dates of judges, as well as dates of retirement or moving to another court. When the Reports use the word “qualified,” it means the actual date a new judge is sworn in by the Clerk of the Circuit Court, which sometimes occurs before the formal investiture. When one judge replaces another, the Latin word vice is used, which means “in place of.” For example, in 344 Md. when Robert C. Wilcox is listed for the first time, footnote 14 states “Qualified March 13, 1997; vice Judge Rasin.” Since its inception, 33 judges have served on the Anne Arundel County District Court bench (34 if you count Martha Rasin twice, who left to become the Chief Judge of the District Court before returning five years later).

As you can see from above (and discounting the nine current judges), 12 of the first 24 District Court judges (50 percent) moved to Circuit Court. Of these 12, two judges (Thieme and Greene) moved to the Court of Special Appeals, and one judge (Greene) moved to the Court of Appeals. Judge Greene is one of only three judges in Maryland to serve on all four courts.

There have been six administrative judges for Anne Arundel County District Court: Tom Curley (07/05/71- 01/11/91); Clayton Greene (01/11/91-10/30/95); Martha Rasin (10/30/95-09/17/96); Joe Manck (09/17/96- 03/30/98); Jack Dryden (03/30/98-07/31/07); and John McKenna (07/31/07-hopefully 06/30/23, his 70th birthday).

Finally, for those of you who are into “judicial genealogy,” the lineage and creation dates of the nine judgeships are as follows:

#1 (1971): Curley – Mulieri – Reilly

#2 (1971): Heise – Lowman – Ricks – Legum

#3 (1971): Neilson – Rushworth – Rasin (#1) –Wilcox – Miller

#4 (1971): Taylor – Manck – Bruce – McKenna

#5 (1971): Williams – Wolff – Anderson – Wyatt – Greene – Davis-Loomis – Wachs – Spencer

#6 (1973): Thieme – Lucke – Dryden – Duden

#7 (1990): Loney – Johnson

#8 (1997): Hackner – Rasin (#2) – Mosley

#9 (2005): Pryal – (no successor yet)