Candidate Priorities: Courts And Register Of Wills


With Election Day approaching, we asked each candidate to share his or her top three priorities for office so Anne Arundel County residents can make a decision before heading to the polls on November 8.


Terry Gilleland

Now more than ever, the citizens of Anne Arundel County expect and demand more from their government. As clerk of the court, I will focus efforts to improve constituent service and employee satisfaction to improve the overall customer experience for both judicial stakeholders and the public at-large. Second, I will continue to modernize and transform the office to increase access to the clerk's services at the courthouse and beyond to better support those who are unable to commute to Annapolis or simply do not have the time. Third, I will safeguard fiscal resources for taxpayers, as the citizens of Anne Arundel County expect their elected officials to spend their tax dollars efficiently and wisely without jeopardizing the level of services provided.

Scott Poyer

My three primary priorities for the office are improving efficiency, customer service, and access to justice.

Improving efficiency – I will ensure court documents are processed quickly and accurately by implementing new technology and other operational improvements. My achievements in the last four years have included the following: saving over $350,000 a year in operating costs, increasing the speed of processing legal filings over 80 percent, and cleaning up a backlog of 8,500 boxes of unarchived legal documents. Over the next four years, I will work to further streamline our organization and business processes for additional efficiencies and cost savings.

Improving customer service –Delivering outstanding customer service is the first and highest duty of public service. My achievements in the last four years have included the following: speeding the delivery of legal documents from several days to a few seconds by implementing e-delivery; keeping the office functioning during COVID, completing more hearings than any jurisdiction in the state; and conducting over 500 remote weddings during COVID, including for couples who were hospitalized, in danger of losing medical insurance, and military members being deployed. Over the next four years, I will implement customer service initiatives such as an electronic payment option to improve convenience and decrease wait times.

Improving access to justice - I will focus on making the clerk’s office accessible to all, regardless of background, means or limitations. My achievements in the last four years have included the following: helping people understand and navigate the court system by publishing articles on free legal help; making numerous presentations to community groups; partnering with various community and state groups to improve access to the courts; and reducing red tape for businesses, including working with legislators to update outdated laws and streamline court processes. Over the next four years, I will work to further update and streamline outdated laws and increase our outreach to community groups and other stakeholders.


Erica Griswold

Erica Griswold could not be reached.

Lauren Parker

When I asked for your support in 2018 to continue the work we had begun in the office of Register of Wills for Anne Arundel County, I kept my promise to cut expenses wherever possible, continued moving the office forward with modern technology and internet access, and continued to provide outstanding customer service. This is exactly what my staff and I have done over the last four years. In 16 years as register of wills, I have achieved four perfect state legislative audits and implemented credit card acceptance, a public website for case information, and an online ordering system for documents and publications.

Continuing in this tradition, my biggest priority is maintenance of the well trained, knowledgeable, compassionate, computer-savvy staff to guarantee efficiency and virtually no waiting time. The staff and I work together to exceed public expectations. We provide you with fast, live, personal service in answering the phone and greeting you at the front desk - all from a dedicated staff.

I have created outreach programs to inform clubs, churches and civic groups regarding estates. I am completing the transition to a paperless office to save the public supply and storage costs. I lobbied the legislature to eliminate small estate probate fees, effective October 1, 2022, and I continue lobbying them to eliminate bond fees. This office is leading the charge on legislation changes to create rules for electronic filing and preparing the project plan for e-filing of estate paperwork. My main priority is always continued excellence through caring public service. My office motto is that “kindness and efficiency never go out of style.”

I am a lifelong resident of Anne Arundel County and take great pride in serving my county and its citizens. Since my election in 2006, I have brought my 25 years of experience as an estates and trusts attorney to bear for the benefit of the citizens of this county. I take great pride in serving my county and its citizens. I am proud of what we have achieved together. I humbly ask for your support in continuing to serve you with knowledge, compassion and results.


Incumbent Anne Colt Leitess is running unopposed.


Maureen Carr-York

My top three priorities as a judge of the Orphans’ Court are all related to serving the citizens of Anne Arundel County with a sound knowledge of the law and an appropriate environment for the resolution of problems that have arisen with their loved ones’ estates.

First, our judges must be fully present at our court hearings not only in the sense of appearing for the hearing but also being focused on the people who have brought their difficulties before us, the evidence they present, and the law to be applied to the case. There is no room for an “agenda” or political interests in the courtroom. Also, this office is far too important to be considered a stepping stone on the way to “higher office” or other ambitions.

Second, the judges must thoroughly understand the law of the state of Maryland. Unlike the other candidates for this office, I have over 40 years of experience as a member of the Maryland Bar Association, including years of trial practice. That experience in court has provided me with a knowledge of the Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules of Evidence that enables me to make the immediate rulings necessary in the flow of a court hearing.

Third, the court must work seamlessly with the register of wills and her staff. The register of wills serves as the clerk of court for the Orphans’ Court but also has an independent role in processing and management of those many estates, which can be managed administratively. In the case of our present register of wills, Lauren Parker, her own many years of experience as an attorney and later as register makes her a valued partner in meeting the needs of our Anne Arundel County residents and their heirs and legatees. Members of the court must understand the separation between the two elected offices as well as those areas where our functions overlap.

I have enjoyed serving you as judge of the Orphans’ Court and humbly ask for your vote in the coming election.

David Duba

My first priority will be to ensure that the court is accessible to all. With the support of my colleagues, I hope to open an afternoon or early evening session of the Orphans’ Court and host the session on Zoom or similar platform. This will ensure that working people and those with transportation challenges can access the court more easily. I will treat all Anne Arundelians attending the court with respect and ensure that they know that this is their court. And I will work with the register of wills to raise awareness of the court, the register of wills office, and the laws and procedures pertaining to wills and estates. It is up to us to educate Anne Arundel County. Many counties in Maryland are doing excellent work to connect with the community. I hope to model these best practices here.

My second priority will be to ensure that the court is efficient and accessible as we arrange hearings, issue decisions and make documents available. People coming to the court are often dealing with a tragedy and I will work to ensure they have a pleasant and professional experience. I will complete my professional duties in a timely manner and support my fellow judges and the register of wills in any way that I can to create the best customer experience.

My final priority will be to develop a solid working relationship with my colleagues on the court and at the register of wills. Regardless of who wins the election in November, we must work together to effectively serve the people of Anne Arundel County.

Vickie Gipson

My three priorities are 1) to establish a video hearing process to respond to emergency situations, such as the pandemic; meet the needs of individuals who have disabilities; and make access to litigants based out of state more affordable. 2) to establish a mediation program to help resolve probate litigation disputes, which will help protect generational wealth by not depleting estate assets through litigation expenses. 3) to establish an outreach program regarding the need to address heir property or property that has passed down outside of probate from generation to generation, creating a host of potential legal problems.

Marc Knapp

In a word, accessibility.

Tony McConkey

My priorities are 1) easier public access 2) fair application of the laws and 3) greater judicial transparency. It is time for the Orphans' Court to give up its stack of type written forms and use technology to streamline the probate process to make public access (both in-person and online) easier on grieving families. I promise to be a leader in the reform of the court, having represented Anne Arundel County for 16 years in the General Assembly, which just last year set up a task force for the court's modernization. Reform is happening, but not quickly enough, and not nearly as quickly as technology would permit it. I promise to speed it up. I am the right person now for the job.

I also promise the fair application of the laws, meaning I will try to apply all the laws consistently to all parties, and not pick and choose which laws to enforce. For that reason, I would welcome greater judicial transparency, as proposed by Governor Larry Hogan, so that voters can measure the performance of judges at election time.

Voters need to know that judges are applying the laws justly. The records of judges should be more available to the public. Likewise, I would oppose the elimination of judicial elections, an idea that is being pushed by many judges in the state. The public should have the opportunity to question their judges, and judges should be held to account for their work on the bench.

Nancy Phelps

  1. My first priority is to continue serving as judge with integrity and professionalism. No one else has my years of experience and historical knowledge.

  2. I will continue to serve without discrimination in any form. I understand the importance of truth and fairness in the courtroom and have always made it my priority to treat everyone fairly. I do not tolerate discrimination of any type.

  3. As the only Realtor on the bench, I will continue to bring my knowledge of real estate to each hearing. Real estate is often an important factor of most estates.


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