The Chief Retires
After more than 38 years of public service in the Maryland Judiciary, Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell announced in April that he would retire July 6, 2013, his 70th birthday. Under Maryland law, state judges must retire at age 70.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to have been permitted to serve the State and its citizens,” Judge Bell wrote in his letter to Gov. Martin O’Malley. “To them, and to my judicial colleagues, without whose assistance and cooperation nothing of worth could have been accomplished, I offer my sincere thanks and deepest appreciation for the opportunity.”
Judge Bell has served at all four levels of Maryland’s courts. He began his career with the Judiciary in January 1975, when he was appointed judge by then-Governor Marvin Mandel for the District Court for Baltimore City. At the age of 31, he was the youngest judge in the state. He was elevated to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City (formerly the Supreme Bench) in 1980 and, in 1984, he was appointed to the Court of Special Appeals, Maryland’s intermediate appellate court. In 1991, Judge Bell joined Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, and five years later, in 1996, then-Governor Parris Glendening named him chief judge. With this appointment, Judge Bell became the first African-American to lead the Maryland Judiciary, which handles more than two million cases each year.
Judge Bell has served as the 23rd chief judge of the Court of Appeals, a court which was formally established by the Maryland Constitution in 1776, but whose history as a Colonial court stretches back to the middle of the 17th century. The Court reviews more than 600 petitions for writ of certiorari each year, along with attorney discipline matters, certified questions of law, and bar matters.
As part of his many duties as chief judge, Judge Bell has managed a workforce of more than 4,000 employees and determined the annual budget of more than $450 million.