The Sweeney Legacy: A Tribute to the District Court of Maryland’s First Chief Judge

By: Chief Judge John P. Morrissey, District Court of Maryland and Lauren Kitzmiller.

Many changes have been made during my first eighteen months as the Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland. For example, we have added a brand new program to provide all indigent defendants with representation at initial appearances before Commissioners. We have also converted the judiciary from paper filing to an electronic filing and case management system and moved the location of the district court headquarters.

All of these endeavors have been challenging, but something special came when packing up the old office and moving next door. In the accumulation of folders, documents, and other miscellaneous office supplies, I found two ordinary file folders hidden amongst the many records accumulated by the district court over the years. These files, however, were anything but ordinary. What I found was not only history of the district court, but also history of its first Chief Judge – the man who sat in my position, over forty years ago. Looking through these folders that contained speeches, convocations, and publications, I not only received first-person insight to the beginnings of a new court, but of the man behind it all – the Honorable Robert F. Sweeney.