ANNAPOLIS — The newest member of Maryland’s top court pledged Thursday to “work hard every day to justify” her seat on the Court of Appeals.
“I am truly humbled by this appointment,” Judge Brynja M. Booth said at her ceremonial swearing-in. “I am thrilled to part of a court that is rich with history.”
Booth said her decision to apply for and later accept a seat on the Court of Appeals was “truly bittersweet” because it meant leaving an Eastern Shore law practice she loved and shared with her husband, Curtis.
But Booth, who was officially sworn in April 18, said the transition was eased by her six Court of Appeals colleagues, whom she praised for their “amazing intelligence” and for being “courteous and thoughtful.”
Booth’s address came toward the end of her public investiture, an hour-long ceremony in the House of Delegates Chamber of the Maryland State House at which she took the oath of office – for the second time – from Gov. Larry Hogan, who appointed her.
Booth, 47, praised retired Court of Appeals Judge Sally D. Adkins, whom she succeeded on the high court.
“I have incredibly large shoes to fill,” Booth said. “I will take her seat on the bench but nobody will take her place on the court.”
Hogan, in his remarks at the ceremony, lauded Booth’s “exemplary knowledge and respect for the law” and congratulated her on “her new, important assignment.”
Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera said Booth has become a “colleague, friend and member of the family” during her first few months on the bench.
“She has been hard at work,” Barbera said. “That hard work shows.”
The chief judge called Booth an “excellent appointment” who has displayed “a commitment to serve the people of Maryland.”
Barbera noted the July 1 retirement of Judge Clayton Greene Jr. from the Court of Appeals and said she looked forward to again having a full complement of seven judges on the high court.
“Hint, hint,” Barbera said with a nod toward Hogan, causing laughter among the gathered dignitaries of current and former Maryland and federal judges, Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, Booth’s family, her former law partners and mentors.
One of those ex-partners and mentors, Roy B. Cowdrey Jr., recalled the many late nights he and Booth spent working on cases and the pep talk he gave her, which has proven prophetic.
“I told her to hang in (because) there’ll be a good day job down the road,” Cowdrey said.
Booth, who left the Easton law firm Booth, Booth, Cropper & Marriner P.C. to join the bench, was president of the Maryland Municipal Attorneys Association and focused her practice on appellate work and land-use law, according to a biography provided by the governor’s office.
The Washington and Lee University of School of Law graduate clerked for now-retired Talbot County Circuit Judge William S. Horne, who told the investiture audience that he learned more from Booth than she did from him.