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