Judge Dana M. Middleton was named the Top Winner in the Leadership in Law awards during The Daily Record’s Leadership in Law virtual celebration Monday evening. Middleton was selected by a vote of the other Leadership in Law winners.
Middleton was named a circuit court judge for Baltimore city by Gov. Larry Hogan in 2017 after working a dozen years in the Baltimore City’s State’s Attorney’s Office and a year for the state Office of the Attorney General.
“It’s an absolute honor to be associated with this class,” Middleton said on Tuesday morning. “I can’t think of a harder working group, many of whom I’ve worked with before.”
Middleton considers been named a judge her most significant professional accomplishment.
“Not because of what it means to me, but because of the responsibility that comes with this position,” she wrote in her application for the award. “Being a judge means that I study the law, and treat every litigant with dignity and respect, so that I reach a fair decision in each and every case. However, it also means using your skills to give back to the community through mentoring, educating and being active in my community.”
Middleton has served as co-chair of the MSBA’s Leadership Academy Committee since 2010. According to Aaron DeGraffenreidt, who nominated her for the Leadership in Law award, she is often assigned as a mentor as part of the program and takes on other responsibilities to help the program run.
She has also served as president of the Bar Association of Baltimore City. During that time her goal was to help increase access to civil legal services to those economically disadvantaged by encouraging pro bono or low-cost legal services. She dedicated her monthly newsletter column to highlighting a different legal service that provides services to underserved populations.
Her dedication to that area came from the year she spent in the Circuit Court’s Family Division in 2019. She realized that 80% of the cases had people with no legal representation. Pro-se litigants often are unable to present claims in a framework that judges work with to make a decision, and while judges can’t give legal assistance, Middleton is using her position with the bar association to help increase access to services.
“I want to thank The Daily Record and my colleagues for this honor,” she said.
Middleton received her bachelor’s in political science from Morgan State University and her law degree from The George Washington School of Law in 2001.
Leadership in Law was held virtually after being postponed from May because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The MSBA was the presenting sponsor for the event. Ellin & Tucker, Epsilon Registration, Maryland Legal Aid and VPC Inc. were Virtual Celebration Sponsors.