I rise today to urge the Senate to confirm Judge George Levi Russell III of Maryland to be a US District Judge for the District of Maryland. Judge Russell was reported by voice vote of the Judiciary Committee on February 16. Judge Russell currently sits as a trial judge in the Baltimore City Circuit Court.
The Constitution provides for lifetime appointments for federal judges, which is unique in our federal government. I take this obligation very seriously in terms of the advice and consent role played by the Senate.
Judge Russell is an excellent candidate, received bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee, and is ready to take office upon being confirmed by the Senate.
Judge Russell brings a wealth of experience to this position in both state and federal courts. Earlier in his career he served as a federal prosecutor and as an attorney in a private law firm. He now sits as a state court trial judge in Maryland.
Judge Russell graduated from Morehouse College with a B.A. in political science in 1988, and a J.D. from Maryland Law School in 1991. He passed the bar examination and was admitted to practice in Maryland in 1991. He then clerked for Chief Judge Robert Bell on the Maryland Court of Appeals, our state’s highest court.
He worked as a Litigation Associate for 2 years at Hazel, Thomas, and then briefly at Whiteford, Taylor. He then served as an Assistant US Attorney for the District of Maryland from 1994 to 1999, handling civil cases. In that capacity he represented various federal government agencies in discrimination, accident, and medical malpractice cases. He then worked as an associate at the Peter Angelos law firm for 2 years.
In 2002 he went back to the US Attorney’s office handling criminal cases until 2007. He represented the United States in the criminal prosecution of violent crime and narcotics cases during the investigatory stage, at trial, and on appeal. This included the initiation and monitoring of wiretaps to infiltrate and break up violent gangs in Baltimore City. He also served as the Project Safe Neighborhood Coordinator for the office from 2002 until 2005. He participated in community outreach programs, in coordination with the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, to reduce violent crime in Baltimore communities.
In January 2007, Governor Ehrlich, a Republican, appointed him to serve as an Associate Judge of the Baltimore City Circuit Court for a term of 15 years. As a trial judge, Judge Russell has presided over hundreds of trials that have gone to verdict or judgment, and has experience in handling jury trials, bench trials, civil cases, and criminal cases. He has the professional experience which has been recognized by a Republican Governor and a Democratic President.
Judge Russell has strong roots, legal experience, and community involvement in the state of Maryland. He was born and raised in Baltimore City, and has extended family who live in Baltimore. He serves as a Director and Trustee on the Board of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. He served on the Board of Directors of the Community Law Center, which is an organization designed to help neighborhood organizations improve the quality of life for their residents.
He has also served as a board member of several organizations that devoted substantial resources to helping the disadvantaged, including Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Maryland. I know that he has often spoken to young people in school about the obligation, duty, and mandate of a judge, and tries to demystify the role of a judge in a black robe. Judge Russell is particularly concerned with addressing the drug violence and mental health problems that plague Baltimore City.
Judge Russell comes from a very distinguished family in the legal profession of Maryland. Judge Russell’s father is George L. Russell, Jr. who was a groundbreaking African-American lawyer in Maryland. He was the first African-American judge on Maryland’s Circuit Court in the 1960’s, and was later Baltimore’s first African-American solicitor. He was also the first African-American president of the Baltimore City Bar Association, and the first African-American to run for mayor of Baltimore in 1971. In later years, Judge Russell was named by the governor to chair the Maryland Museum of African-American History and Culture Commission, and served as chairman of the board of the Maryland African American Museum Corporation. He was also asked to chair Baltimore’s Judicial Nominating Commission. He received numerous awards from the Maryland Bar Foundation and NAACP.
Indeed, Judge Russell’s family believes so strongly in public service that even he wife is a judge, sitting on the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City.
I am absolutely confident that Judge Russell possesses the qualifications, temperament, and passion for justice that will make him an outstanding federal trial court judge. He will serve the people of Maryland very well in this position. I therefore urge my colleagues in the Senate to vote to confirm Judge Russell as a Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.