Baltimore District Judge Mary Ellen T. Rinehardt, a 9-year veteran of the city bench, has been appointed the new administrative judge of the Baltimore court, the busiest in the state's District Court system, it was announced yesterday.
Judge Rinehardt, 61, succeeds Judge Joseph A. Ciotola Sr., 71, who resigned after nearly a decade in the job following a recent Supreme Court ruling that upheld a state-mandated retirement age of 70 for elected and appointed judges.
Judge Rinehardt's appointment by Judge Robert F. Sweeney, chief judge of the District Court of Maryland, takes effect Wednesday.
A former attorney for Legal Aid, Judge Rinehardt is only the second woman in the history of Maryland's judicial system to serve as the administrative judge of a local court. Mary Ann Stepler was the administrative judge for the District Courts in Frederick and Washington counties before she was appointed to the Frederick County Circuit Court in 1986.
In her new position, Judge Rinehardt will manage a court that has 22 judges and about 200 court employees, the largest as well as busiest of Maryland's lower courts.
Judge Rinehardt, a past nominee for vacancies on Maryland's two appellate courts, has been serving as chief of the Eastside branch of the city's District Court.
"She is a woman of unquestioned competence and integrity," Judge Sweeney said in announcing the appointment.
Judge Rinehardt was appointed to the court in 1982 by then-Gov. Harry R. Hughes.
Born in Plainfield, N.J., and raised in Laurel, Judge Rinehardt is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore Law School.