Lecture Presented at Salisbury University:
"Justice and Social Change" - delivered April 25, 2006
Since 1991 he has been a judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, the highest court in Maryland, and its Chief Judge since 1996.
Born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, his parents soon moved to Baltimore, Maryland. While attending Dunbar High School there in 1960, Bell had his first experiences with the judicial system. He joined a group of students in a sit-in protest at a segregated restaurant. He was arrested, convicted of trespassing, and fined $10. His appeals went as far as the U.S. Supreme Court where he was represented by Thurgood Marshall. While the case was returned to state courts, his conviction was ultimately reversed in 1965.
Bell graduated with a BA in history from Morgan State University in Baltimore in 1966 and while there became a brother of Alpha Phi Omega. He went on to Harvard Law School where he earned his JD in 1969. That same year he was admitted to the bar and began his practice in Baltimore. In 1975 he first became a judge in the Maryland District Court in Baltimore. Since then he has served at every level of the state court system.
Robert M. Bell, Chief Judge, Court of Appeals, since 1996 (Judge, 6th Appellate Circuit, Baltimore City, May 16, 1991-). Chair, Maryland Judicial Conference, 1996- (chair, judicial council, 2000-). Member, Executive Committee, 1996-2000, and Judicial Compensation Committee, 1993-, Maryland Judicial Conference. Chair, Library Committee, State Law Library, 1996-. Member, Judges, Masters and Juvenile Justice Committee, 1996-. Chair, Committee on Building Public Trust and Confidence in the Justice System, 1998-99. Chair, Maryland Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission, 1998-2001. Chair, Hall of Records Commission, 1998- (member, 1996-). Member, State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy, 1999-2000. Chair, Technology Oversight Board, 1999-. Member, Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, 2000-02. Chair, Public Trust and Confidence Implementation Committee, 2000-. Chair, Judicial Cabinet, 2000-. Chair, Advisory Board, Maryland Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office, 2001-. Member, State Commission on Public Safety Technology and Critical Infrastructure, 2002-05; Task Force on Child Welfare System Accountability, 2003-04; Task Force to Study Criminal Offender Monitoring by Global Positioning Systems, 2004-05.
Board of Directors, National Center for State Courts, 2004-05. Board of Directors, Conference of Chief Justices (president-elect, 2005; 1st vice-president, 2005; vice-chair, committee on access to & fairness in the courts, 2005).
Judge, District Court of Maryland, District 1, Baltimore City, 1975-80. Member, Court of Appeals Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, 1977-82; Commission to Revise the Annotated Code of Maryland, 1980-82. Associate Judge, Baltimore City Circuit Court, 8th Judicial Circuit, 1980-84. Board of Directors, Judicial Institute of Maryland, 1982-84. Judge, Court of Special Appeals, 6th Appellate Circuit (Baltimore City), 1984-91. Born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, July 6, 1943. Attended Dunbar High School, Baltimore, Maryland; Morgan State College, A.B. (history & political science), 1966; Harvard University Law School, J.D., 1969. Admitted to Maryland Bar, 1969. Member, National and American Bar Associations; Maryland State Bar Association (judicial administration section), Baltimore City and Monumental City Bar Associations. Member, Legal Aid Society, 1973-75. Board of Directors, Villa Julie College, 1978-85; Sojourner-Douglass College, 1982-91. Chair, Board of Directors, Provident Hospital, 1983-84. Board of Directors, The African-American Community Foundation, 1994-. Board of Visitors, University of Maryland School of Law, 1994-. Board of Trustees, Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2000-. Special Award, Maryland State Bar Association, 1998. Legal Excellence Award for Advancement of Public Service Responsibility, Maryland Bar Foundation, 1999. Rosalyn B. Bell Award, Women's Law Center of Maryland, 1999. Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access, Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, American Bar Association, 2000. Access to Justice Tribute Award, Pro Bono Resource Center, 2001. Maryland Top Leadership in Law Award, Daily Record, 2001. Rita C. Davidson Award, Women's Bar Association of Maryland, 2001. D'Alemberte/Raven Award, Dispute Resolution Section, American Bar Association, 2003. First annual Robert M. Bell Award for Leadership in Public Service, Students for Public Interest, University of Baltimore School of Law, 2004. Medal for Access to Justice, Maryland Legal Services Corporation, 2004. Honorary Board Member, Baltimore Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, 2005. Baltimore Peacemaker Award, Community Mediation Program, 2005. Freedom Fighter Award, Frederick County Branch, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 2006. Chief Judge Robert M. Bell Award for Outstanding Contribution to Alternative Dispute Resolution in Maryland, ADR Section, Maryland State Bar Association, 2006.