Annual program gives lawmakers day in court; Legislators get closer look at effect of laws they pass

THE BALTIMORE SUN

About a dozen legislators spent a morning in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court on Friday getting a firsthand look at the practical effect of the laws they pass.

Though this was the fifth year the delegations were invited to informal talks with local judges and a whirlwind tour of court cases, it was the first time that so many of the elected officials chose to come in the weeks before the General Assembly opens.

"It's good to see how our acts are put into action here," said Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, a Brooklyn Park Democrat. In the program, which is aimed at improving their understanding of the workings of the courts, lawmakers dropped in on custody, criminal and civil hearings.

The bird's-eye view showed them a court system that has made many changes in recent years to reduce clogging -- including a family court that provides support for families in turmoil, mediation to help parties settle differences without tying up judges, and a scheduling system to reduce the number of people waiting in corridors for their cases to be called, said Clayton Greene Jr., the county's administrative judge.

Similar visits took place around the state last week as part of a program to foster closer ties between the lawmakers and local judges.

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