Rid­dle to re­tire

So. Md.’s dis­trict ad­min. judge over­sees last case Aug. 15

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AN­DREW CEPHAS acephas@somd­news.com

Robert B. Rid­dle, dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tive judge for Dis­trict 4 in South­ern Mary­land, re­cently an­nounced his re­tire­ment and will be sit­ting on his last case as ad­min­is­tra­tive judge in Au­gust, af­ter prac­tic­ing law in Calvert County for more than 22 years.

A na­tive of New York City, born in the Bronx,

Rid­dle moved to Calvert when he was 11 af­ter his fa­ther landed a job in Solomons Is­land fol­low­ing his ser vice with the Coast Guard. He at­tended and grad­u­ated from Calvert High School in 1964. At 17, Rid­dle joined the U.S. Army and worked in the Army’s se­cu­rity agency for four years be­fore honor­able dis­charge in 1968 at the rank of E-5.

Rid­dle ob­tained a bach­e­lor’s in so­cial sci­ence from God­dard Col­lege and an as­so­ciate de­gree from North Shore Com­mu­nity Col­lege. In 1979, Rid­dle re­ceived a mas­ter’s de­gree in ed­u­ca­tion and hu­man de­vel­op­ment from Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity. Six years later, he earned his Juris Doc­tor de­gree from the Univer­sity of Bal­ti­more.

“I wanted to be a lawyer for a long time,” Rid­dle said. “One time, I wanted to be a teacher and I re­al­ized I could be a teacher and I kept go­ing to school and said, ‘Hey, I could be a lawyer.’ I ended up go­ing to law school and here I am.”

Af­ter work­ing as a ju­di­cial law clerk and com­plet­ing in­tern­ships with the Prince Ge­orge’s County Pub­lic De­fender’s Of­fice and the Mary­land House of Del­e­gates, Rid­dle be­gan his legal ca­reer, work­ing in a va­ri­ety of roles, in­clud­ing court au­di­tor and stand­ing court ex­am­iner, and prac­tic­ing pri­vate law.

In 1988, Rid­dle be­gan work­ing as an as­sis­tant state’s at­tor­ney for Calvert County. Af­ter six years in this po­si­tion, Rid­dle was elected to serve as Calvert’s state’s at­tor­ney, where he re­mained for 11 years.

“I had the priv­i­lege of work­ing for Judge Robert B. Rid­dle when he was the state’s at­tor­ney for Calvert County,” cur­rent Calvert County State’s At­tor­ney Laura Martin (R) said. “Judge Rid­dle’s in­flu­ence on Calvert County will not be for­got­ten. As the state’s at­tor­ney, Judge Rid­dle es­tab­lished a vic­tim’s rights pol­icy and pro­ce­dure for the State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice and cre­ated the Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Unit.”

Martin said Rid­dle em­pha­sized the role of the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice was to see that jus­tice was served, which doesn’t al­ways mean a con­vic­tion, but rather means look­ing at all of the facts of the case and de­cid­ing what is the best re­sult for the vic­tim, the com­mu­nity and the de­fen­dant.

Once the as­so­ciate dis­trict judge po­si­tion be­came avail­able in 2005, Rid­dle ap­plied for and ob­tained it. He was named the dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tive judge of Dis­trict 4 in 2008. This dis­trict en­com­passes Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s coun­ties. Rid­dle over­sees six dis­trict judges for the dis­trict.

As ad­min­is­tra­tive judge, Rid­dle has been re­spon­si­ble for the op­er­a­tions and ad­min­is­tra­tion of the dis­trict courts in the South­ern Mary­land dis­trict.

Mem­bers of the Calvert County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice ex­pressed their plea­sure to work with Rid­dle over the years.

“On the bench, Judge Rid­dle de­mands that at­tor­neys be pre­pared, know the law and work for jus­tice,” Deputy State’s At­tor­ney Kathryn Marsh said. “It has been a true plea­sure to be able to work for Judge Rid­dle and ar­gue cases be­fore him in the Dis­trict Court of Calvert County.”

“I have been in front of Judge Rid­dle nu­mer­ous times over the past 10 years. Dur­ing that time, it has been ob­vi­ous that he is ex­tremely knowl­edge­able of the law and its nu­ances,” Se­nior As­sis­tant State’s At­tor­ney An­drew Rap­pa­port said. “He clearly shows com­pas­sion for the peo­ple who ap­pear in front of him and is al­ways fair and bal­anced when he ren­ders a verdict. As ef­fi­cient as he is in court, Judge Rid­dle al­ways al­lows ev­ery­one to be heard while on the bench. As a well-re­spected mem­ber of the bench, Judge Rid­dle will be truly missed.”

Rid­dle said one of the most dif­fi­cult parts about be­ing a dis­trict court judge is hav­ing to move a lot of cases through while re­mem­ber­ing it is one of the most im­por­tant days of that per­son’s life.

“When you have in the vicin­ity of 25,000 [cases] a year, han­dling all them cor­rectly and ef­fi­ciently while re­al­iz­ing it’s the most im­por­tant thing in that per­son’s life is the most dif­fi­cult part of the job, I be­lieve,” Rid­dle ex­plained.

Rid­dle said the most ful­fill­ing part of his job is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in peo­ple’s lives. He said he will miss in­ter­act­ing with ev­ery­one on a daily ba­sis and hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to make a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence in peo­ple’s lives.

Through his ca­reer in law, Rid­dle said he has learned there are no ab­so­lutes and the world is “mostly gray.”

“There’s no such thing as black or white in most things. Ev­ery­thing’s got vari­a­tions in it,” he ex­plained. “I’ve al­ways thought the world was mostly gray. The more I did this job, the more I know there are no ab­so­lutes on ei­ther side.”

Rid­dle’s last day sit­ting as a full-time judge is Aug. 15. Af­ter he re­tires, Rid­dle plans on tak­ing a lit­tle time off be­fore sit­ting a cou­ple days a week as a re­call judge in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions in Mary­land. He has al­ready been ap­proved for the po­si­tion.

Rid­dle left words of advice for the in­com­ing as­so­ciate dis­trict judge: “The only advice I can give is learn to be a lis­tener, re­mem­ber there’s two sides to every story, know the law, ap­ply the law and re­mem­ber that’s the most im­por­tant thing in that per­son’s life.”

Rid­dle was in­volved in a num­ber of com­mit­tees and coun­cils through­out his ca­reer, in­clud­ing the Dis­trict Court Chief Judges Com­mit­tee, Ad­hoc Ad­min­is­tra­tive Or­ders Com­mit­tee, Ap­pointed Mary­land Ju­di­cial Coun­cil, Ad­hoc Com­mit­tee on Sen­tenc­ing Alternatives, Calvert County Bar As­so­ci­a­tion and Mary­land Bar Foun­da­tion. He has also served as pres­i­dent and vice pres­i­dent of the Mary­land State’s At­tor­neys’ As­so­ci­a­tion and state di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Dis­trict At­tor­neys’ As­so­ci­a­tion Board of Di­rec­tors.

He has also been in­volved in the com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Calvert County Men­tor­ship Pro­gram, Calvert Al­liance Against Sub­stance Abuse, Calvert County Of­fice on Ag­ing work­shops, the Boys & Girls Club of South­ern Mary­land, Calvert Li­brary and the Safe Har­bor pro­gram. Rid­dle also coaches Lit­tle League and Pony League and vol­un­teers in Calvert County Pub­lic Schools.

Rid­dle said his par­tic­i­pa­tion in these pro­grams and or­ga­ni­za­tions helps him do his job bet­ter, help­ing him re­late bet­ter to mem­bers of the com­mu­nity.

St. Mary’s County Dis­trict Judge Christy Holt Chesser was re­cently ap­pointed to the dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tive judge po­si­tion for the South­ern Mary­land dis­trict when Rid­dle re­tires.

Ap­pli­ca­tions are also cur­rently be­ing ac­cepted for the as­so­ciate judge po­si­tion. Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) will ap­point that per­son, who will then be­gin a 10-year term.

STAFF PHOTO BY AN­DREW CEPHAS

Robert B. Rid­dle, ad­min­is­tra­tive judge for Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s coun­ties, poses for a photo in his of­fice at Calvert County Dis­trict Court. He re­cently an­nounced his re­tire­ment and will sit on his last case as ad­min­is­tra­tive judge Aug. 15.

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