O'Malley Names First Female Chief Judge on Md. Court of Appeals

First black woman judge on the high court also named

Maryland's highest court made history Wednesday when Gov. Martin O'Malley appointed the first female chief justice and the first black woman to the state's Court of Appeals.

O'Malley chose Mary Ellen Barbera to be the first female chief judge of the court,

Barbera, who has taught at American University's Washington College of Law, has served on the Court of Appeals since 2008, representing Montgomery County.

She's also the first chief justice from Montgomery County. "I think it's an amazing day for Montgomery County to have the chief judge of the Court of Appeals from Montgomery County, from Kensington," said State Sen. Richard Madaleno, Jr. (D-Montgomery County).

O'Malley also appointed Judge Shirley Watts to the Court of Appeals, making her the first black woman to serve on the high court.

"This is an historic day which just validates my experience of so many families in America who have striven to give their best to the country," Watts said. "Very very proud."

The court now has a majority of women, which makes Maryland one of only eight states to have a female majority, News4's Chris Gordon said.

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It is now up to the Maryland Senate to confirm these judicial appointments. A leading legislator told Gordon he forsees no problems because the senate has has not rejected an appointment to Maryland's highest court for more than 20 years.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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