Marcella A. Holland was appointed yesterday as chief administrative judge of Baltimore Circuit Court, the busiest and most backlogged jurisdiction in the state.
Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell named Holland to replace Ellen M. Heller, who announced she would not seek reappointment when her term ends in November.
Holland, 55, a native of rural Howard County, has been a circuit judge since 1997 and is currently in charge of the family division. Before being appointed to the bench, she was an assistant state's attorney in Baltimore for 13 years.
"It's going to be a challenge," Holland said of her new position. "But my goal has always been public service. I've been in public service my whole life."
Holland will officially replace Heller in November. Heller, who took the job in 1999, was the first woman to be appointed administrative judge to a circuit court in Maryland.
"With her outstanding leadership qualities, Judge Holland will be the right leader at the right time for our bench," said Heller, who will remain a trial judge. "There is no one who has greater knowledge of the court's needs."
Heller said last week that she won't seek another term because she wants to pursue other interests.
Holland said between now and November, Heller will teach her the ropes of the job.
"I need to see the big picture," Holland said.
She will be at the helm of a court system that managed 18,134 new felony and misdemeanor cases last year, as well as 14,690 new civil cases, according to court data.
Bell said he anticipates that Holland will bring leadership to the court. "I am absolutely delighted that Judge Holland has agreed to undertake the additional responsibilities in a leadership role that is vital to the court's operation," he said in a prepared statement.
Holland said she would pick her successor on the family court bench by November.
She is the daughter of Agnes O. Holland, 92, and the late Rev. John W. Holland, who served as president of the Howard County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
She graduated from Glenelg High School in Howard County in 1966. She became a legal secretary in Washington before deciding to return to college to become a lawyer.
Holland graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 1980 and the University of Maryland School of Law in 1983.