• The Washington Post


A former public school teacher who went to law school at night will become the first woman to head Maryland’s highest court.

Gov. Martin O’Malley on Wednesday named Mary Ellen Barbera, who has been on the Maryland Court of Appeals since 2008, as chief judge. Barbera will take over from Chief Judge Robert Bell, who retires Saturday.

O’Malley, a Democrat, also appointed Court of Special Appeals Judge Shirley Watts to the state high court. If approved by the state Senate, Watts would be the first black woman to serve on the court, officials said. Together, the appointments would give the Maryland Court of Appeals its first female majority.

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