Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera has made the first major hire of her two-week tenure, naming Pamela Q. Harris to be state court administrator — her chief assistant in implementing court policies, crafting the judiciary’s annual budget and dealing with the executive and legislative branches.
Harris will replace Frank V. Broccolina on Aug. 5 as head of the Administrative Office of the Courts.
“Pam has more than 25 years of leadership experience at the Judiciary and has distinguished herself as a skilled and thoughtful administrator,” Barbera said in a statement Wednesday. “I am proud to elevate her to a statewide role, where she will be able to ensure the effective administration of the court system in all jurisdictions for the benefit of the people of Maryland.”
Harris has served since 1989 as administrator of the Montgomery County Circuit Court in Rockville, where Barbera keeps an office.
“It is a great honor to have been selected for this position by Chief Judge Barbera,” Harris said in the same statement. “I thank her for her confidence in me and I will remain committed to infusing evaluation-based practices into every aspect of court administration to achieve the best results for court staff and court users statewide.”
The office that Harris will lead prepares the judiciary’ annual budget, which is $468 million this fiscal year, collects and analyzes court data and serves as the Maryland Judiciary’s liaison with state agencies and the General Assembly. Harris will be the first woman to hold the post.
Broccolina, whom former Chief Judge Robert M. Bell appointed administrator in 2000, will assist with the transition until his retirement Dec. 1.
“He was a critical part of my administration,” Bell said Wednesday. “He was a person who knew all of the ins and outs of state government, of fiscal administration. He was an innovative person who was active not only at the state level but at the national level. We are the better for it.”
Broccolina did not return telephone messages seeking comment. At the time of his appointment by Bell, he was serving as acting state court administrator and had been deputy state court administrator since the early 1990s under George B. Riggin Jr.
The state court administrator is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the chief judge. Maryland’s Constitution required Bell to retire from the court on July 6, his 70th birthday.
University of Baltimore School of Law professor Byron L. Warnken said he is not surprised that Barbera would move quickly to name a new state court administrator.
“She wants to bring in her own team just like any head coach does,” Warnken said. “I think that’s entirely within her prerogative. When you are the boss, you have to gather the team around you that you feel comfortable with.”
Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy called Barbera’s selection of Harris “extraordinary.” He said Harris is an expert who has lectured in both the United States and Russia on the subject of court administration and rule-of-law issues while ensuring that the busy Rockville courthouse runs smoothly.
“Even when the job is difficult she can make it look easy,” McCarthy said. “I am personally devastated she’s leaving. They’re very lucky to have her [in Annapolis].”
Harris, a member of the Maryland Judiciary’s Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, completes a one-year term this month as president of the National Association for Court Management. She also serves on the board of the National Center for State Courts.
Broccolina has also served on the center’s board and as the association’s president. He was also on the Bellow-Sacks Access to Civil Legal Services Project at Harvard Law School.
Records compiled by MarylandReporter.com show Broccolina’s salary as state court administrator was $142,287 in 2012.
A 1969 graduate of what was then Loyola College, Broccolina received his master’s degree from American University in 1975. He was also the Baltimore County Circuit Court administrator before joining the Administrative Office of the Courts. According to the judiciary’s figures, he has served the judiciary for more than 35 years.