The District Court for Anne
Arundel County bench:
a history with a personal connection
By Judge Jonas D. Legum, Anne Arundel County District Court
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.
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).
The original five judges, who were sitting People’s Court judges, were qualified (sworn in) on July 5, 1971. They were: Thomas J. Curley, Jr. ( judgeship number one); Robert S. Heise (two); Vernon L. Neilson (three); George M. Taylor (four); and Bruce C. Williams (five).
A sixth judgeship was created by the General Assembly in 1973 and was filled by State’s Attorney Raymond G. Thieme, Jr., who was sworn in on June 22, 1973. Judge Thieme gave me my first law-related job when he hired me in 1972 as a law clerk in the state’s attorney’s office.
On April 13, 1977, Martin A. Wolff was sworn in to replace Judge Williams, who replaced Judge Karl Biener in Circuit Court on November 29, 1976.
On September 26, 1977, Robert N. Lucke, Sr., was sworn in to replace Judge Thieme, who moved to Circuit Court on June 27, 1977, to replace Judge Matthew Evans.
On May 29, 1980, Arthur A. Anderson, Jr., was sworn in to replace Judge Wolff , who moved to Circuit Court on December 28, 1979, to fill a new judgeship created there.
On March 26, 1982, Donald M. Lowman was sworn in to replace Judge Heise, who moved to Circuit Court on December 21, 1981, to replace Judge E. Mackall Childs.
On June 25, 1984, Martha Wyatt was sworn in to replace Judge Anderson, who retired on June 14, 1984.
On August 12, 1985, Lawrence H. Rushworth was sworn in to replace Judge Neilson, who retired on June 15, 1985.
On March 31, 1988, Clayton Greene, Jr., was sworn in to replace Judge Wyatt, who passed away untimely on December 14, 1987.
On September 6, 1989, both Joseph P. Manck and Martha F. Rasin were sworn in. Judge Manck replaced Judge Taylor, who retired on June 30, 1989, and Judge Rasin replaced Judge Rushworth, who moved to Circuit Court on August 8, 1989, to replace Judge Heise.
A seventh judgeship was created by the General Assembly in 1990, which was filled by Michael E. Loney, who was sworn in on March 2, 1990.
On April 25, 1991, Vincent A. Mulieri was sworn in to replace Judge Curley, who retired on January 11, 1991.
On July 10, 1991, James W. Dryden was sworn in to replace Judge Lucke, who retired on May 3, 1991.
On August 16, 1994, Essom V. Ricks, Jr., was sworn in to replace Judge Lowman, who retired on April 1, 1994.
On July 9, 1996, Nancy Davis-Loomis was sworn in to replace Judge Greene, who moved to Circuit Court on October 30, 1995, to replace Judge H. Chester Goudy, Jr.
On March 13, 1997, Robert C. Wilcox was sworn in to replace Judge Rasin, who became the Chief Judge of the District Court on September 17, 1996, replacing Judge Robert F. Sweeney.
An eighth judgeship was created by the General Assembly in 1997, which was filled by the swearing in of Paul A. Hackner on March 24, 1997.
On December 22, 1997, Megan B. Johnson was sworn in to replace Judge Loney, who moved to Circuit Court on June 20, 1997, to replace Judge Thieme, who moved to the Court of Special Appeals.
On September 10, 1998, David S. Bruce was sworn in to replace Judge Manck, who moved to Circuit Court on March 30, 1998, to fill a new judgeship created there.
On December 8, 2000, J. Michael Wachs was sworn in to replace Judge Davis-Loomis, who moved to Circuit Court on August 4, 2000, to replace Judge Rushworth.
In September 2001, Judge Rasin left her position as the Chief Judge of the District Court. She automatically returned to the Anne Arundel County District Court bench pursuant to CJ§1- 603(a). This gave Administrative Judge James W. Dryden the luxury of having nine judges, even though the General Assembly only authorized eight judges pursuant to CJ§1-603(b) (7). Judge Rasin subsequently filled the “bracket” vacated by Judge Hackner on June 12, 2002, who moved to Circuit Court to replace Judge Robert Heller.
On December 5, 2002, John P. McKenna was sworn in to replace Judge Bruce, who moved to Circuit Court on June 17, 2002, to replace Judge Eugene M. Lerner.
On January 17, 2006, both Danielle M. Mosley and Thomas J. Pryal were sworn in. Judge Mosley replaced Judge Rasin, who retired on August 8, 2005, and Judge Pryal filled the ninth judgeship created by the General Assembly in 2005.
On July 12, 2006, I was sworn in to replace Judge Ricks, who retired on May 31, 2006. I was sworn in on my father’s 90th birthday, and am happy that he was in attendance.
On September 3, 2008, both Eileen A. Reilly and Shaem C.P. Spencer were sworn in. Judge Reilly replaced Judge Mulieri, who retired on June 30, 2007, and Judge Spencer replaced Judge Wachs, who moved to the Circuit Court on December 4, 2007, to replace Judge Manck.
On September 5, 2008, H. Richard Duden III was sworn in to replace Judge Dryden, who retired on July 31, 2007.
On August 1, 2010, Thomas V. Miller was sworn in to replace Judge Wilcox, who retired on January 18, 2010.
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)