Chief Judge Robert M. Bell
Presented at Salisbury University:
and Social Change" - delivered April 25, 2006
1991 he has been a judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, the
highest court in Maryland, and its Chief Judge since 1996.
Born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, his parents soon moved
to Baltimore, Maryland. While attending Dunbar High School there
in 1960, Bell had his first experiences with the judicial
system. He joined a group of students in a sit-in protest at a
segregated restaurant. He was arrested, convicted of
trespassing, and fined $10. His appeals went as far as the U.S.
Supreme Court where he was represented by Thurgood Marshall.
While the case was returned to state courts, his conviction was
ultimately reversed in 1965.
Bell graduated with a BA in history from Morgan State
University in Baltimore in 1966 and while there became a brother
of Alpha Phi Omega. He went on to Harvard Law School where he
earned his JD in 1969. That same year he was admitted to the bar
and began his practice in Baltimore. In 1975 he first became a
judge in the Maryland District Court in Baltimore. Since then he
has served at every level of the state court system.
Robert M. Bell, Chief Judge, Court of Appeals, since 1996
(Judge, 6th Appellate Circuit, Baltimore City, May 16, 1991-).
Chair, Maryland Judicial Conference, 1996- (chair, judicial
council, 2000-). Member, Executive Committee, 1996-2000, and
Judicial Compensation Committee, 1993-, Maryland Judicial
Conference. Chair, Library Committee, State Law Library, 1996-.
Member, Judges, Masters and Juvenile Justice Committee, 1996-.
Chair, Committee on Building Public Trust and Confidence in the
Justice System, 1998-99. Chair, Maryland Alternative Dispute
Resolution Commission, 1998-2001. Chair, Hall of Records
Commission, 1998- (member, 1996-). Member, State Commission on
Criminal Sentencing Policy, 1999-2000. Chair, Technology
Oversight Board, 1999-. Member, Juvenile Justice Coordinating
Council, 2000-02. Chair, Public Trust and Confidence
Implementation Committee, 2000-. Chair, Judicial Cabinet, 2000-.
Chair, Advisory Board, Maryland Mediation and Conflict
Resolution Office, 2001-. Member, State Commission on Public
Safety Technology and Critical Infrastructure, 2002-05; Task
Force on Child Welfare System Accountability, 2003-04; Task
Force to Study Criminal Offender Monitoring by Global
Positioning Systems, 2004-05.
Board of Directors, National Center for State Courts,
2004-05. Board of Directors, Conference of Chief Justices
(president-elect, 2005; 1st vice-president, 2005; vice-chair,
committee on access to & fairness in the courts, 2005).
Judge, District Court of Maryland, District 1, Baltimore
City, 1975-80. Member, Court of Appeals Standing Committee on
Rules of Practice and Procedure, 1977-82; Commission to Revise
the Annotated Code of Maryland, 1980-82. Associate Judge,
Baltimore City Circuit Court, 8th Judicial Circuit, 1980-84.
Board of Directors, Judicial Institute of Maryland, 1982-84.
Judge, Court of Special Appeals, 6th Appellate Circuit
(Baltimore City), 1984-91. Born in Rocky Mount, North
Carolina, July 6, 1943. Attended Dunbar High School, Baltimore,
Maryland; Morgan State College, A.B. (history & political
science), 1966; Harvard University Law School, J.D., 1969.
Admitted to Maryland Bar, 1969. Member, National and American
Bar Associations; Maryland State Bar Association (judicial
administration section), Baltimore City and Monumental City Bar
Associations. Member, Legal Aid Society, 1973-75. Board of
Directors, Villa Julie College, 1978-85; Sojourner-Douglass
College, 1982-91. Chair, Board of Directors, Provident Hospital,
1983-84. Board of Directors, The African-American Community
Foundation, 1994-. Board of Visitors, University of Maryland
School of Law, 1994-. Board of Trustees, Johns Hopkins Medicine,
2000-. Special Award, Maryland State Bar Association, 1998.
Legal Excellence Award for Advancement of Public Service
Responsibility, Maryland Bar Foundation, 1999. Rosalyn B. Bell
Award, Women's Law Center of Maryland, 1999. Louis M. Brown
Award for Legal Access, Standing Committee on the Delivery of
Legal Services, American Bar Association, 2000. Access to
Justice Tribute Award, Pro Bono Resource Center, 2001. Maryland
Top Leadership in Law Award, Daily Record, 2001. Rita C.
Davidson Award, Women's Bar Association of Maryland, 2001.
D'Alemberte/Raven Award, Dispute Resolution Section, American
Bar Association, 2003. First annual Robert M. Bell Award for
Leadership in Public Service, Students for Public Interest,
University of Baltimore School of Law, 2004. Medal for Access to
Justice, Maryland Legal Services Corporation, 2004. Honorary
Board Member, Baltimore Area Council, Boy Scouts of America,
2005. Baltimore Peacemaker Award, Community Mediation Program,
2005. Freedom Fighter Award, Frederick County Branch, National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 2006.
Chief Judge Robert M. Bell Award for Outstanding Contribution to
Alternative Dispute Resolution in Maryland, ADR Section,
Maryland State Bar Association, 2006.