Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Justice Mary Ellen Barbera is retiring on Sept. 10, upon reaching the state court’s mandatory retirement age of 70 years. Governor Larry Hogan (R) appointed Steven Gould to succeed Barbera on the court on Sept. 3. Gould was Hogan’s fifth nominee to the seven-member supreme court.
Gould is a judge of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Gould was appointed to the court by Hogan in 2019. Prior to becoming an appellate judge, Gould was a founding partner of Brown Gould Kiely, LLP.
Under Maryland law, midterm vacancies on the state supreme court are filled via the assisted appointment method. The Maryland Judicial Nominating Commission screens candidates and submits a shortlist to the governor. The governor then appoints a judge from the list. The appointee must be confirmed by the Maryland State Senate. After serving for one year, judges must stand for retention in the next general election if they wish to remain on the court. If retained, a judge is elected to a full 10-year term.
Chief Justice Barbera joined the court in 2008 following an appointment by Governor Martin O’Malley (D). Before serving on the state supreme court, Barbera served as a judge on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. She served as a law clerk for Court of Special Appeals Judge Robert Karwacki in 1984. In 1985, she became an assistant attorney general. From 1989 to 1998, Barbera worked for the Office of the Attorney General as the deputy chief of the Criminal Appeals Division. Barbera then served as legal counsel to the governor’s office from 1998 until her appointment to the Court of Special Appeals.
Following Barbera’s retirement, the Maryland Court of Appeals will include the following members:
- Brynja McDivitt Booth, appointed by Gov.Larry Hogan (R) in 2019
- Robert N. McDonald, appointed by Gov.Martin O’Malley (D) in 2011
- Joseph Getty, appointed by Hogan in 2016
- Michele D. Hotten, appointed by Hogan in 2015
- Jonathan Biran, appointed by Hogan in 2019
- Shirley Marie Watts, appointed by O’Malley in 2013
In 2021, there have been 16 court vacancies in 14 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies have been caused by retirements.