The Judiciary in the Long Term
Together, four Judiciary employees served Maryland for close to two centuries
The state of Maryland has been faithfully served by many Judiciary employees who devote years to public service. It is amazing to add up the years of service by long-termers. Here are quick tributes to four who, collectively, worked for the Judiciary for more than 180 years before retiring recently.
In January, Baltimore County Circuit Court Chief Deputy Clerk Billy Allen retired after 56 years as the Judiciary’s longest-serving employee.
“What strikes me is that I was a law clerk in 1964 – and I’ve been around a long time – but Billy Allen was a veteran then and his 56 years makes my time look like nothing. His dedication is tremendous,” said Baltimore County Circuit Administrative Judge John Turnbull, II.
Allen began his Judiciary career as a utility clerk earning eight dollars per day. He started the job shortly after graduating from Milford Mill High School in Baltimore County. Allen, who served under eight Clerks of the Court, said, “Everything you do affects people’s lives. The information must be accurate and filed in a timely manner. I’ve taken my job very seriously and enjoyed helping people and learning something new each and every day.”
The Maryland State Law Library recently said farewell to two long-term employees. Acquisitions Librarian Bernice Bernstein exited in February after 45- plus years.
When she joined the then-named Maryland State Library in June 1966 as an assistant librarian, Bernstein planned to stay five years, max. Little did she know she would stay 40 years more than that original plan.
Bernstein started her job the same year the Court of Special Appeals was established. She has worked under three Library directors, seen several former law clerks become judges, and helped with one major Library move and several renovation upheavals, not to mention the introduction and growth of computer technology. “The Library’s collection had consisted of print, microfilm and microfiche,” Bernstein said. “My entire operation went from a manual system to a much more sophisticated system allowing faster input of information and a quicker response to inquiries, all of which was a plus.”
Over 45 years, Bernstein amassed her own ‘library’ of special memories, but says that the highlight of her career was being nominated by Court of Special Appeals Judge Arrie W. Davis for the Daily Record’s Unsung Legal Heroes awards program and receiving the award in 2008.
Dee Van Nest
Dee Van Nest, who retired in April, began her tenure with the Maryland State Law Library in April 1972, just in time for its move from downtown Annapolis to the new Courts of Appeal building.
Barely four months after her arrival, in August 1972, the Library, along with the Court, moved from the old Court of Appeals building in downtown Annapolis (on the site of the current Department of Legislative Services building) to the current location on Rowe Boulevard. Van Nest designed the organizational system to move all of the books, with the help of a phalanx of college students.
Over her four decades, there have been many changes in how the Library looks, functions and serves its customers. Like Bernstein, Van Nest remembers the Library as a place people visited often. She knew most of the appellate judges, law clerks and local attorneys by sight as well as by name. Today, she says, most of the Library’s patrons call or email for assistance rather than coming in person. She misses those face-to-face interactions, though she admits much of the technology is more convenient for users.
“The best part of the job has been the intellectual challenge. It’s never boring,” Van Nest said. “No matter how long you work in a law library, you will always encounter a question that you have never researched. What could be better than that?”
District 11’s Administrative Clerk Dixie Scholtes retired just shy of her 40th anniversary with the District Court of Maryland.
“We grew up together, the District Court and I,” Scholtes said. It’s true: The District Court of Maryland began operating in July 1971, and Scholtes started working for the District Court one month later, in August 1971.
She started as a courtroom clerk in Ocean City and Snow Hill, and in 1977, moved to the Frederick County District Court as a clerk. Scholtes became administrative clerk for District 11, which includes Frederick and Washington counties, in 1978, and held that position for 33 years until her recent retirement.
Considering that District 11 didn’t even have an electric typewriter when Scholtes started, she considers the development of computer systems to process and manage daily filings to be one of the greatest changes during her career. During her tenure, she helped with the establishment of supervisors and lead workers, and was also involved in the planning, building and opening of new buildings.
“I have been blessed with almost 40 years at a job that I have truly enjoyed and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the Maryland Judiciary,” Scholtes said. “I do look forward to a new chapter of doing new and exciting things, knowing Sara Snyder, the new administrative clerk, will make District 11 even better than it is today.”