In a room full of local and statewide luminaries, Judge Michele D. Hotten was sworn in as Fourth Appellate Circuit Judge for the Court of Special Appeals – the first African-American woman in Maryland to make the Court.

“Today is one of those days when we’ve achieved a better, stronger and more just future,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley, who presided over Hotten’s investiture. “It’s a happy day and it’s also a historic moment with the swearing in of Michele Hotten to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.”

Among those in the crowd were former Prince George’s County Executive Wayne Curry; Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown; current Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller; former first lady of Maryland, Frances Hughes Glendenning and various jurists.

Brown, who hails from Prince George’s County as does Hotten, thanked O’Malley for making the decision to appoint her to the position. “I had the pleasure of appearing before Judge Hotten when I practiced in Prince George’s County and I can personally attest she is an outstanding jurist and I want to congratulate the governor,” he said. “I thank him for his leadership and commitment to make sure Maryland’s government looks like Maryland.”

After passing the Maryland bar, Hotten began her career in public service as an assistant state’s attorney in Prince George’s County. Hotten served in that capacity from 1985-1989 before moving on to private practice.

She began working at Farrington, Smallwood, Wells & Wyrough in Landover, Md., in 1989 and specialized in civil and criminal litigation until 1992. At that point she began her own practice, and became special counsel to the Human Relations Commission, hearing examiner for the Prince George’s County Board of Education, a deputy for the People’s Zoning Counsel, and examiner in chancery for Prince George’s County Circuit Court.

In 1994, she became only the second African-American woman to become a judge with the District Court for Prince George’s County. Hotten served in that capacity for a year before serving in the same capacity for the Circuit Court, a position she held until her appointment to the appellate court.

However, her life hasn’t been all about the law as her good friend and Prince George’s County attorney, Elizabeth M. Hewlett mentioned. Hewlett joked about Hotten’s lighter side – a side many people don’t know about.

“I know that she has a penchant for cowboy boots and even rodeos—go figure,” Hewlett said. “I know that she loves and surrounds herself with the color purple. I know that she is the quintessential post-it queen with little purple stickies everywhere – in her office, on her computer, on her mirror and even on her dashboard.”

Despite the lighter side to Hotten, she was recognized for her hard work as O’Malley selected her from a pool of two other finalists. He said it was her unwavering work ethic and remarkable intelligence which makes him truly comfortable with his decision.

“Many judges and lawyers have written to me to describe Judge Hotten as impeccably prepared, uniformly fair, and a devoted legal scholar with a truly legendary work ethic,” he said. “I am confident that she will serve well on the Court of Special Appeals and handle its notorious case loads with efficiency, integrity, and fairness.

“Those qualities, in addition to her sense of justice, compassion, and wisdom – qualities that made Judge Hotten such a fine Circuit Court judge – will also cause her to excel as an appellate judge.”

In brief remarks, Judge Hotten spoke a bit about the duties of a judge, thanked family and friends and said, “Governor O’Malley, you had three very qualified jurists to choose from and I know it was a very difficult decision. I am delighted and deeply humbled that you chose me.”


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO