Maryland voters have overwhelmingly approved a a constitutional amendment requiring Baltimore’s Orphans’ Court judges to be members of the Maryland bar.
The amendment, which makes Baltimore the only jurisdiction where the estate and probate judges must be lawyers, had the support of 83 percent of the state’s voters.
The proposal had the strong support of the city’s two sitting orphans court judges, Joyce M. Baylor-Thompson and Lewyn Scott Garrett, who are both attorneys. They argued that the complexity of the probate and estate cases the court hears requires a knowledge of the law.
Ramona Moore Baker, a non-lawyer with an MBA who ran unopposed for a vacant seat on the three member court, argued that being a lawyer is not as important to the task of being an Orphans’ Court judge as having financial expertise when presiding over probate case, which generally center on money and property.
The amendment’s passage bars Baker from taking office, according to an opinion from the attorney general’s office.
Baker has vowed to challenge in court any effort to prevent her from being sworn in.