Clayton R. Greene Jr. was lavishly praised for his competence and his compassion yesterday evening, then sworn in as Anne Arundel County's first black Circuit Court judge.
Judge Greene, 44, of Severna Park, was appointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening. Yesterday's ceremony brought 300 of the judge's friends, relatives and supporters to the Annapolis courthouse. The crowd spilled out of the court house's cavernous Courtroom One and into a second courtroom, where spectators watched the ceremonies on closed-circuit television.
Mr. Glendening said he had been warned to expect a large crowd. A similar crowd gathered when Judge Greene was sworn in as a District Court judge in 1988.
"I was told by a judge, who shall remain nameless here, that he could not recall ever seeing a courthouse so filled with love and pride," Mr. Glendening said.
That pride was evident last night as Judge Greene was praised for his credentials, intellect and patience.
Mr. Glendening, who interviewed Judge Greene three weeks ago, said he was impressed by Judge Greene's character and called him a "quiet, strong and dignified" man.
Judge Greene, a one-time ironworker, school janitor and clothing salesman, thanked the governor for appointing him, then acknowledged his place in the county's history.
"I graduated in 1973 from the University of Maryland with a degree in history. But little did I know then that 22 years later I would be making history in Anne Arundel County," he said.
Judge Greene was given a minute-long standing ovation after being sworn in by Clerk of the Circuit Court Robert Duckworth. Judge Greene's wife, Janice, was at his side. He was then escorted to a private jury room where his two sons, Clayton Greene III and Jonathan Greene, helped him put on his Circuit Court robes for the first time.
T. Joseph Touhey, the former public defender who first hired Judge Greene to work as his law clerk, told the crowd the county's trial lawyers were "thrilled" at the appointment.
"He listens to people, he's kind and he's going to make a splendid addition to this bench," Mr. Touhey said of Judge Greene.
Court of Appeals Judge Robert M. Bell also praised Judge Greene for his "finely tuned sense of justice." Judge Bell said his fellow jurist had won the appointment based on his credentials.
"He's achieved this milestone in his career the old-fashioned way. He's earned it," he said.
Judge Greene graduated from Northeast High School in Pasadena and worked his way through the University of Maryland as a member of the school's kitchen staff. At Northeast, he worked part time as a janitor at Freetown Elementary School for two years.
He earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Maryland in 1973 and a law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1976. He served as an assistant public defender from 1978 to 1985, when he was named deputy public defender.
He was appointed to the Anne Arundel District Court bench in 1988 and named the court's administrative judge two years later.
The second vacancy on the Anne Arundel Circuit Court is expected to be filled Monday when Pamela North is sworn in as the bench's first woman judge. Circuit judges earn $91,700.