Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun
Robert M. Bell was shaping Maryland's legal landcape well before he was even a lawyer, much less chief judge on the state's highest court. As a 16-year-old, he became lead plaintiff in a case that would help shape civil rights law. His committment to equality and justice has unified his legal career, including rulings to limit Maryland's application of the death penalty and a minority opinion -- later vindicated by the legislature and voters -- that same-sex marriage should be legal. The theme continued in one of the last major cases he presided over before reaching mandatory retirement this year. Under his leadership, the Court of Appeals found that criminal defendants have a right to counsel at their initial appearance before a court commissioner -- a ruling squarely on the side of equalizing justice between those with means and those without.
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Kevin RichardsonBaltimore Sun p,
When bombs exploded at the finish line of this year's Boston Marathon, dozens of ordinary people became heroes. One of them was a preschool teacher from Towson, Erika Brannock, who was with her sister and brother-in-law waiting to see her mother finish the race. Ms. Brannock might easily have died from her injury, but thanks to the quick thinking and compassion of those around her, she survived. She might easily have given in to despair when her left leg was amputated above the knee. But she didn't. She endured a dozen surgeries that would save her right leg and learned to walk again with a prosthesis less than six months after the marathon. By November, she was able to grab a walker and cross the finish line at a 5k in Charlotte, N.C. The strength, determination and good will make her an inspiration to all those who come to know her remarkable story.
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We'll narrow our list of five finalists down to single Marylander of the Year on Sunday, Dec. 29. But we got so many excellent nominations this year, that we have decided to list five more who receive an honorable mention in this year's awards.