Arundel judge takes on trials of administration Greene to oversee courts in 3 counties

November 10, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Clayton Greene Jr., appointed last week as the county's new administrative judge, keeps a plastic replica of a hand grenade on a corner of his desk with "Complaint Department" inscribed on its pedestal.

A visitor might think the gift from a retired police officer is a not-too-subtle warning to combative lawyers, but it contrasts sharply with Greene's approachable, conciliatory style, according to those who know him.

"He's a real leader in a quiet, effective way. He doesn't coerce people, he just works really well with getting people to work with him," said Judge Joseph P. Manck, who served with Greene for six years as a District Court judge and now holds Greene's old job as administrative judge of Anne Arundel's District Court.

Greene, 45, of Severna Park was appointed last week by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell to serve as county administrative judge and as administrative judge of the 5th Judicial Circuit, which includes Howard and Carroll counties, along with Anne Arundel.

Greene replaces Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr., who was appointed to the Court of Special Appeals two weeks ago, as administrative judge of the 5th Circuit.

In his new position, Greene will have a hand in supervising operations in all three courthouses.

He also replaces County Administrative Judge Robert H. Heller Jr., who has been supervising the Anne Arundel Courthouse.

Heller, who will remain on the Circuit Court bench, said that Bell told him late Wednesday that, after consulting with Court of Appeals Judge John Eldridge, he decided to have just one supervisory judge in each county courthouse.

Greene said that when Bell offered him the position in a telephone call last week, the same question ran through his mind as when he was asked to serve as administrative judge of the Anne Arundel County District Court in 1990.

"Can I do this job?" he said he wondered. "And then I thought, all it takes is doing what I've been doing all my life, dealing with people," Greene said in an interview Friday. "The answer was yes, I can do it."

Greene said that one of his top priorities will be to make the court system as efficient as possible and to push for state money for more circuit judges.

The county has had nine judges for 20 years, but as quickly as it is growing, more are needed, Greene said. "We need at least 10 judges. I'd love to have 12, but I know I can make a good case for 10."

The number of judges in Anne Arundel's Circuit Court had been limited somewhat by the size of the 19th-century courthouse, which has eight courtrooms. The new courthouse, expected to open early next year, will have 10, according to county plans.

The appointments bring no additional salary, but carry with them the prestige and responsibility of overseeing operations in the state's fifth-largest courthouse.

Greene, who was appointed to the District Court in 1988, is highly respected for his fairness, intellect and ability to move cases through a clogged court system.

"He doesn't get bogged down in minutiae, his knowledge of the law is first-rate, and he's highly regarded by the prosecution and defense bar," said John H. Robinson III, a former prosecutor who now does criminal defense work.

Greene is a graduate of Northeast High School. He worked his way through the University of Maryland as a clothing store salesman, iron worker and member of the university kitchen staff.

A graduate of the University of Maryland Law School, he was an assistant Anne Arundel County attorney from 1977 to 1978 and an assistant public defender from 1978 to 1985. He was a deputy public defender from 1985 until his appointment to the District Court bench in 1988.

Pub Date: 11/10/96

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