Judge Robert Bell

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Chief Judge Robert Bell is an American lawyer and jurist from Baltimore, Maryland. From 1996 to 2013, he served as Chief Judge on the Maryland Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state. He was the first African American to hold the position. At 16 years old, Robert Bell was the lead plaintiff in Bell v. Maryland, a case that ultimately helped push the U.S. toward desegregation. He served as a judge at every level of the Maryland court system; and on July 6, 2013, reached the state’s mandatory retirement age of 70 years for appellate and circuit court judges. In 1969, Robert Bell earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School. He attended Baltimore’sDunbar High School and graduated with a B.A. in history from Morgan State University in 1964.

Quotes:“I suspect that when you get right down to it, the story of how one lived during a particular era is important to future generations, particularly if it’s an era in which the societies supposed goals were undermined or were not being followed in the appropriate way and were inconsistent with the mandates of the Constitution and the laws. How people reacted to that and how they responded is of course of relevance to those who come after, so as to ensure that perhaps, it won’t happen again. And so I was – that entered my mind because she told me that it had to do with how we lived in a segregated society, a society which was antithetical to what was supposed to be the norm.  And so I thought that it was appropriate to sit down and talk about that.”

“I see us on this – the – same path today as we were on then. While we have made a tremendous amount of progress – if you look at it – we have a good ways to go. And a lot of it has to do with trying to beat back – once again – the same kinds of issues that we were facing back then. You know, you would’ve thought that you wouldn’t have to fight certain battles again, but we are now looking at a situation where race as a factor – a negative factor – is again raising its head. Racism in this country is becoming much more tolerant. It started back in – I guess it started with Reagan – and he talked about the bright city on the hill or something of that sort and being proud of the country and urging people not to look critically at the flaws in the society.  You’ve got the same thing coming back around again.”


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