It Started With A Judge’s Missing..

$515 of $1,000 goal

Raised by 9 people in 11 months

The goal got changed from $750 to $1000.

This is ME:  Marlena Jareaux, from Maryland. Passionate about civil rights, FREEDOMS, justice, character, helping the little guy/woman to have a fighting chance, and generally... The Right Thing. Here I am:

More importantly, let me introduce you to someone else...

A son of a sharecropper, at 16, he was arrested at a sit-down in a Baltimore restaurant that only served whites. That led to a Supreme Court case (Bell vs. Maryland) that helped the USA become desegregated.

*Dunbar high school valedictorian in 1961.
*Student body president at Morgan State Univ.
*Harvard Univ Law School grad in 1969.

He was the 1st African-American to be named a Chief Judge at the Maryland Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court). He held that position for about 17 years.

He retired in 2013 and, with a portrait that is traditionally created and then hung in the outer chamber of the 4th floor of the Maryland Court of Appeals building in Annapolis, MD, he was honored for his achievements. 

This great man had the great Thurgood Marshall working on his case in the Supreme Court, as well as the first black woman to practice law in Maryland (Juanita Jackson Mitchell). 

To say that this man has EARNED his due respect, is an understatement! When you read about him, you get the sense that he doesn’t like a lot of fuss being made about his achievements. But in no version of reality could that possibly mean his SIMPLE ACKNOWLEDGMENT.

There are 19 portraits that are in the outer chamber of the 4th floor of the Court of Appeals building for the public to see if you are ever fortunate to have your case actually make it to be heard at that court (or witness one). 

Those portraits date all the way back to people like this dude who was the chief judge in 1844:


And there are 18 portraits that have name plates on them to identify who the judge is. Yes, you read and counted correctly...



Do you know his name? Many won’t! I first noticed in January that one guy wasn’t getting his props like the others were. I went back a few weeks later in February , and lo and behold... NO NAME PLATE still! Can’t believe lawyers and his old colleagues are walking past it like there’s nothing out of the ordinary with his portrait considering the 18 others. 
Chief Judge Robert M. Bell.

I like the guy without having met him! I understand clearly that sometimes one must sue their state in order to get them to do the right thing! And, he DID THAT! The man can’t get his props?! 

I want the man to get his props!

Help me help him get his recognition before Black History Month ends!

Oh, and here’s the pic of his portrait the day it was unveiled to him. No plate then, no plate now! (Nice touch having Thurgood’s pic in the portrait!)

I picked out the most expensive name plate that I could find on the internet! What else would go on a portrait painted by Simmie Knox? It’s from a company called The Gold Leaf, and it’s the size 8 rounded edge plate “in 23(k) yellow gold and 12(k) white gold” according to their website. The total cost for one I ordered and received came to $78.00
My options were here, but you’ll see in the updates what the one for his portrait looks like.



Here’s that story:

In the State of Maryland, a person who wants to do an appeal of a decision from one of the circuit courts has to pay certain funds to make that a reality. That’s certainly not unusual. Those who can afford an attorney maybe wouldn’t be phased by the filing fee or transcript cost because they may be paying for an attorney too.

But, what about those who can’t afford it?

In fiscal year 2016, the circuit courts of Maryland saw 94,329 civil-family cases filed. In the judiciary’s Access to Justice report for 2017, it was reported that 80% of family cases had at least one self-represented party at the time that the answer to the lawsuit was filed. 

Judges make errors, and if you believe one made an error in YOUR case you could appeal. And, you can ask the court to waive the pre-payment of the filing fee if you can’t afford it. But in the state of Maryland, you CANNOT ask for a waiver of the fees for having a transcript created when your case is coming from the circuit court. 

In New York, you can.
In California, you can.
In Alaska, you can.
In Minnesota, you can.
In Maine, you can.
In Oregon, you can.
In Massachusetts, you can.
In Vermont, you can.

(I didn’t check all of the states)

In Maryland, YOU CAN NOT.

So, to help people gain access to review of their case in the Court of Appeals building in Annapolis, MD, I’m starting a scholarship fund to help with transcript costs. Appeals get DISMISSED when the appeals court sees that a transcript wasn’t ordered. I’ve read many dismissal Orders that reveal that fact. 

I’d like to change that, in the name of Judge Robert M. Bell.

Every dollar and cent that isn’t used to pay for the GoFundMe charges and Judge Bell’s name plate, will go to help people wanting to appeal their circuit court decisions with their transcript costs. Any person who is retaining legal counsel for their appeal is NOT eligible, unless the attorney works for a non-profit like Public Justice Center, Inc. in Baltimore City. Any party who is actually a corporation is also NOT eligible. Preference will be given to individuals who filed to ask that the court waive their filing fee (and were approved), but others can apply also.

While the Maryland Judiciary’s tagline in recent years has become, “Justice delayed is justice denied”, I’d like to concentrate on making it easier for people to access justice at that building where Judge Bell walked the halls for 17 years on the 4th floor and 7 years prior on the floor below at the intermediate appellate court! 

Help me, help people to reach his court(s)!

And with your help, maybe, just maybe, they will see his name plate when they go?

I thank you for reading this far, and hope you’ll help me to right some wrongs for a few folks until the Maryland Judiciary (maybe) does it themselves at some point. 

Maybe YOU can drive this to make the name plate order possible by February 28 in time for the end of Black History month and a simply fantastic showing of support for those who could use the help with their appeals. Transcripts start at $3 per page, and if you’re the one appealing, you will have to supply the other side with a copy also. That’s about 50 cent per page extra. This will give you an idea of what the costs CAN be:

The number of people that can be helped by this campaign may not touch all of the people that need or want the help, but EVERY person who will be reached will 100% have needed it! I hope to start with helping at least 5-7 people with a mixture of 30-60 minute hearings. I hope to grow from there over time, using my non-profit arm The Learn, Then Do Project Inc. (A Maryland organization registered with SDAT), but in the meantime, I’ve started Chief Judge Bell Access to Justice Fund, and it has its own EIN and bank account. 

I will appreciate ANY help, no matter how small, you can provide. Money shouldn’t be a requirement for pursuing justice. Maybe one day, it won’t get in the way at all.

Here’s the website with the name plate info. It’s the one at the bottom of the picture: (thinking the “BOLD” lettering style is appropriate)

And here’s a nice write up about Judge Bell and his retirement:

Link for the unveiling ceremony. 34 minutes into the ceremony is when portrait is unveiled:

From the Maryland Judiciary about the transcript costs:                               

It’s here too... at the bottom of the page:

The EIN from the IRS for the entity can be found in the updates for the campaign, along with some other info about the journey thus far. 

In addition, the information on the ceremony we are having with Speaker Busch at the Maryland House Chambers, can also be found in the updates. Particularly if you are a donor, please do join us as we celebrate Shontell, attorneys at the non-profit Public Justice Center, Inc., and the donors who have made this possible. Judge Bell has been invited to attend, but I’ve made it clear to him that I respect his decision after retirement from the Judiciary to live a low-key life filled with the pursuit of his interests. 

I hope he will WANT to come!!

p.s. there’s no harm whatsoever in EXCEEDING the goal! There are no salaries or compensation of any kind associated with this endeavor, and the money will sit until worthy homes are found for it! 

If you prefer to mail in a check, you can send it to:

Chief Judge Bell Access To Justice Fund
10400 Shaker Drive #174
Simpsonville, MD 21150

Thanks for even reading this, and thanks in advance for your contribution.

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Great news! We are meeting with Speaker Busch at the MD House Chamber in Annapolis on May 15 @1pm to give him the Chief Judge Bell nameplate and award our 1st scholarship! All donors are invited to attend. Also, we made things official:
EIN and bank account opened!
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All dressed up, waiting to go HOME!!

The nameplate came in, and it’s beautiful!! I let the Maryland Archives know that it was in and ready for an install date, and I waited.

And waited.

And waited....

The response I finally got nearly 2 weeks later was essentially... The Best Thing You Can Do Is Send It In The Mail To Us, we’ll install it, and then let you know when it’s done so you can take your pictures THEN.

Now, I’ve selected a scholarship recipient who lives in Baltimore City, and I wanted HER to be there to help celebrate (along with several other people). This woman took a case from the District Court, to Circuit Court, and to the Court of Appeals, and was JUST TOLD on Monday that she was right and that 2 judges and the company who was trying to illegally eject her from her home were wrong!

David won over Goliath, and she had no money of her own to do it!

She will get something, but I’m busy fighting to see how I can get the Archives to walk ACROSS THE STREET to install this nameplate with these 4 tiny nails. It just shouldn’t be this hard to get this installed.

But then again, it took nearly 5 years to get him his nameplate, so....

Stay tuned!
Will be nicer on the portrait!!
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Great news to share! You helped Fund the amount needed to order retired Maryland Chief Judge Bell’s nameplate that was missing for 5 years from his official portrait. Is shipping out next week. Fundsraising to help the poor pay critical transcript fees will continue. Please considering supporting access to courts unavailable to those financially challenged. $ should never be a deterrent. Updates to come.
Final ordered version
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Great news! I’ve been in touch with Chris Kintzel from Maryland Archives about the nameplate for the portrait. He asked me to email him all the particulars about this project so that they can start working on determining how this can get done with YOUR donations. I received the proof from the company, which I forwarded to Chris for their input, and it’s my hope that on this last day of Black History month... the judge’s nameplate will be in progress. Will keep you informed.
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Raised by 9 people in 11 months
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