Glendening taps Brown for judgeship

Assistant attorney general lauded for legal, civic work

`I'm so honored'

Columbian backed by African-American group, bar association

Howard County

April 05, 2002|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

Pamila J. Brown, an assistant attorney general with a long history of community involvement, was appointed yesterday to the Howard County District Court bench.

Brown, one on a diverse list of five finalists for the job whose names were forwarded to Gov. Parris N. Glendening in January, will fill the vacancy created by District Court Chief Judge James N. Vaughan's promotion in September.

"I'm so honored and so humbled to receive the appointment," a clearly overwhelmed Brown said yesterday, a few hours after receiving word and after fielding kudos all afternoon. " ... I think being a judge is one of the highest public callings you, as a lawyer, can have. It's just a lifelong dream."

Glendening's decision to pick Brown, 47, a nominee for District Court openings in the mid-1990s, was lauded by both her bosses and by members of Howard County's legal and African-American communities. She is the third African-American to be appointed to a Howard County judgeship - the second in District Court after Judge Alice Gail Pollard Clark in 1997.

"I think she's a perfect choice," said Howard Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney. "She's just got a wonderful way with people and has been a leader in the law ever since she was a young lawyer."

Brown, a 12-year Columbia resident and mother of 10-year-old twins, had been mentioned as a top contender among a field of 23 applicants for the post nearly from the start and received endorsements from the local bar association and from the county's African American Coalition.

"We thought she'd be the classic model of the kind of person who should be a judge," said Sherman Howell, a vice president for the coalition and a member of the nominating commission that interviewed the judicial candidates. Glendening "could not have pleased the African-American community in too many better ways than with this judgeship."

Praised as a hard worker who is patient, thorough and respectful, Brown, a Bel Air native and University of Baltimore Law School graduate who passed the Maryland Bar in 1981, has spent the bulk of her legal career in the Maryland attorney general's office, working her way up the ranks during 15 years with the office.

Most recently, she has served as principal counsel for the state Department of General Services, an agency responsible for contracts and building projects throughout the state. As an assistant attorney general, she has earned a reputation as an intelligent worker who has often been seen as a mentor figure, said Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. and Deputy Attorney General Donna Hill Staton.

"It's our loss, but Howard County is really getting a wonderful person as a judge," Curran said.

Those who know Brown praised her skill as a lawyer and her legal and community involvement yesterday. In addition to memberships in a variety of legal organizations - she was given the 1999 Nelson Award for Outstanding Service by a Government Lawyer, a national honor - she serves as chairwoman of the Hickory Ridge Village Board and as a member of the county's social services board.

Brown's appointment is expected to provide much-needed relief to the docket crunch in Howard District Court created by the vacancy and Judge C. James Sfekas' recent long-term absence because of illness. Still, officials noted, it could be several weeks before Brown takes the bench.

Vaughan said Brown should "fit in very well" in Howard County.

"I talked to the governor's office about the appointments and told them there were a bunch of good people on the list and he really couldn't go wrong," Vaughan said. "I'm very happy with the appointment."

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