Pamila Junette Brown was sworn in as Howard County's newest District Court judge yesterday in a ceremony filled with personal tributes to a woman described as a leader who knows how to juggle multiple responsibilities while projecting "unwavering optimism and radiance."
Brown, 47, an assistant attorney general who had been on Gov. Parris N. Glendening's short list for previous appointments, is stepping into the judicial slot - and into the former chambers - of District Court Chief Judge James N. Vaughan, whose promotion created a vacancy last fall.
"Pamila, welcome to my home. Welcome to the bench," Vaughan said in front of a standing-room-only crowd of several hundred local lawyers, dignitaries and Brown's friends and family in the George Howard Building's Banneker Room.
Yesterday, speakers detailed Brown's growth as a lawyer and what they said was a penchant for not only joining various legal organizations but also for volunteering to take leadership roles. At the same time, several speakers noted how far blacks have come from the days when they were not allowed to practice.
Brown, a 12-year Columbia resident, is the second African-American named to the Howard District Court bench. Judge Alice Gail Pollard Clark was the first, in 1997.
Others alluded to the relief Brown's appointment will provide for a five-member bench that has been two short as a result of Vaughan's promotion and Judge C. James Sfekas' recent illness.
"You are the embodiment of everything anybody could ever want in a District Court judge," said Wayne Brooks, president of the Howard County Waring Mitchell Law Society, a society of black lawyers.
Brown, who most recently served as principal counsel for the state Department of General Services and is a past president of the city bar association, promised to be "tempered" and "reasoned" in her decisions.
"I am not naive enough to think every day of service is going to be a day of joy, but I do truly believe in the dignity of each person," said Brown, after paying tribute to her mentors and her family. "I committed myself to be learned in the law and to treat all who come in front of me with dignity and respect."