Judge Clagett presents state of the court
Renovations, drug court making strides
Calvert County Administrative Judge Marjorie L. Clagett delivered her annual State of the Court address to the Calvert County commissioners Feb. 14.
“It and we are thriving,” said Clagett, detailing the highlights of the circuit court. “2016 was a year of great accomplishments.”
The administrative judge said the court continues to be on target with efforts to renovate the entire courthouse, which is occurring in stages. The renovation of the first floor in the south wing, which included the con
struction of a courtroom, chambers and attorney conference rooms for Calvert Circuit Judge Mark Chandlee, as well as new offices for the assignment of
fice, family services and court administration and a lobby, are now complete.
“We have art from Terry Quinn, a local artist, [and] prints from Audrey Bodine of Calvert County landmarks,” informed Clagett. “We have one final piece of art for the lobby, and that is a portrait of Harriet Elizabeth Brown.”
Clagett told the story of how Brown sued the Calvert County Board of Education for equal pay for all teachers, including African-American teachers, who were paid roughly half of what white teachers were paid. Working with her attorney Thurgood Marshall, Brown was able to successfully get equal pay for all in the 1930s. Marshall later became a United States Supreme Court justice.
The portrait is the last project recommendation from the Har
riet Elizabeth Brown Commemoration Task Force convened to honor Brown’s legacy. Clagett, a former educator, spoke at a parkway dedication ceremony in Brown’s honor last fall. The parkway was also a task force recommendation.
Clagett said Brown’s portrait, which reportedly cost $10,000, was done by Ann Monro Wood, the same artist who painted for
mer Judge Warren Krug’s and Clagett’s portraits. Clagett’s por
trait won’t be displayed until she retires.
Continuing on the topic of buildings and grounds, Clagett said the remainder of the main floor was tiled and painted.
“We relocated the adult treatment court to the renovated law library to give them more space and allow us to have chambers for senior/retired judges and a mediation room,” reported the administrative law judge.
She told the commissioners that next month their offices will be painted and re-carpeted, and by May, she hopes to tile the entire second floor of the com-
missioners’ hearing room, the magistrates’ chambers and the area outside Circuit Judge E. Gregory Wells’ courtroom.
In May, modifications to all bathrooms in the south wing will begin in an effort to make them compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Clagett hopes renovations will be complete by the end of July.
The judge gave kudos to Bob Atkins, Wilson Freeland, CJ Jones and their staff in the general services department for their hard work “to get this project done and on budget.”
“Bob and I cannot retire until it is finished, though,” Clagett jokingly sighed. “So we need to plod along.”
Security is paramount at the courthouse and the judge announced it has received a grant to upgrade and add security cameras around the courthouse and courtrooms. In addition, the county also received a grant to upgrade the entry system.
“That will actually impact all county employees that use the courthouse,” shared Clagett.
“The most significant event in 2016 was the kickoff for MDEC,” said Clagett, about the Maryland Electronic Court, an electronic filings system. “Calvert, St. Mary’s and Charles are the fourth rollout of the statewide system ... we will be paperless.” The system will allow at
torneys and other staff to file pleadings remotely from their offices, homes or elsewhere. Clagett said the appellate courts of Maryland, Anne Arundel County, the lower Eastern Shore and the upper Eastern Shore counties are currently using it.
“Our ‘go live’ date is June 12, 2017,” said Clagett, predicting long days for the conversion to the new system. There will be training opportunities for the public and attorneys in the com
ing months. The staff of Circuit Court Clerk Kathy Smith will lead the charge. The court acquired new com
puters and software upgrades for the public and law library, as well as electronic docket boards and informational displays, courtesy of increased revenues from fee increases and grants. The court also launched its own Calvert County circuit court website, www.courts.state. md.us/clerks/calvert/, which is tied to the state judicial website.
“Slowly, but surely, we are coming into the 21st century,” remarked Clagett. This month marks the sec
ond anniversary of the county’s adult drug treatment court. In two years, staff has grown from one to three members, handling over 90 participants. Clagett said the goal is to reach 100 par
ticipants in drug court by the end of June.
“We rival Montgomery Coun- ty in the size of our program. It’s sad to think that we have such need, but I’m incredibly proud of the product that we are producing,” shared the judge.
The program held its first graduation last August with five participants, one of whom is a counselor at the detention cen
ter. Clagett said it hopes to graduate nine at the drug court’s second graduation, scheduled for March 23.
The court is partnering with Farming 4 Hunger, and reportedly participants have worked nearly 1,000 hours on the farm. Other partners include the Calvert County Bar Association and nonprofit Calvert Adult Recovery Extra Services (C.A.R.E.S.). Through them and other sponsors, the court can provide merchant funding for participants for such things as emergency dental care, rent assistance and vocational training assistance.
Clagett expressed appreciation for the working relationship her office has with Terry Shannon, county administrator, Deputy County Administrator Wilson Parran and the commissioners’ staff.
“I look forward to my next year’s address when I will be able to say ‘missions accomplished,’” said Clagett. “We strive to provide equal justice and access to justice for all.”