: News

Filed Under:

Ballot Measure Would Bar Lay Judges From Maryland Orphans' Court

Play associated audio

A measure on the ballot in Maryland would end a 200-year tradition that allows lay-people to work as judges who settle wills, estates, and guardianship of minors. The Orphans' Court ballot question would only affect Baltimore City, but the Maryland constitution requires that all voters in the state get a say.

Only about one-third of Maryland Orphans' Court judges are attorneys. The constitutional amendment on the ballot would require all three judges of the Baltimore Orphans' Court to be lawyers in good standing.

"The question is, should we just turn it all over to the lawyers or should we allow people in the community to participate in this process?" says John Willis, former Maryland Secretary of State.

Willis, who now teaches public policy at the University of Baltimore, says the question of who is qualified to judge is not a theoretical issue.

"One of the nominees for the Orphans' Court is not a lawyer and would be ineligible if this amendment were passed," he says.

Willis says based on history, the amendment will likely pass in most Maryland counties, with one exception: Garrett County, which consistently votes against measures that have something to do with Baltimore City.


Sandra Cisneros Crosses Borders And Boundaries In 'A House Of My Own'

The author's new memoir collects three decades worth of her journeys in search of a sense of home. "I guess I didn't realize I was gonna be crossing borders my whole life," she says.

For Israeli-Born Chef, Hummus And 'Tehina' Are A Bridge To Home

Chef Michael Solomonov sees his mission as connecting people to the food of his homeland. "That, to me, is my life's work," he says. Solomonov's new cookbook is Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.

Obama Begins Sales Pitch To Congress On Trans-Pacific Partnership

Negotiators reached agreement on a massive trade deal this week. It sets in motion a complex political fight — one that involves federal policy, the national economy, President Obama's legacy, and creates a backdrop for the 2016 presidential election.

FAA Proposes Record Fine Against Drone Operator

The FAA is proposing a nearly $2 million fine against a drone operator it says was operating outside the rules and endangering safety. NPR talks to the head of the FAA about what's behind the hefty penalty.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.