Court of Appeals of Maryland Chief Judge Matthew J. Fader has named Judge DaNeeka Varner Cotton as county administrative judge for the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County. Judge Cotton succeeds Chief, Circuit, and County Administrative Judge Sheila R. Tillerson Adams, Seventh Judicial Circuit, who will retire on December 31, 2022, after serving nearly three decades on the bench.
“On behalf of the Maryland Judiciary, I thank Judge Adams for her commitment to justice during her tenure as administrative judge and her leadership during this transition period,” said Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Matthew J. Fader. “Her retirement at the end of the year punctuates an illustrious career as a jurist of nearly 30 years. I am delighted to appoint Judge Cotton as county administrative judge for the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County and I look forward to working together on our common mission of providing fair, efficient, and effective justice for all.”
County administrative judges oversee the administration of the court, budget, and procurement functions. They also manage trial calendars to ensure the expeditious disposition of cases.
“I am honored to be appointed as administrative judge of the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County by Chief Judge Fader,” said Judge Cotton. “The past eleven years working with Judge Adams has prepared me for this opportunity and I am confident I will continue to provide equal justice under the law as she so astutely has done. I understand the importance of ensuring timely access to justice and have an appreciation of the impact that the Judiciary has on the lives of people that we serve in our community. As a lifelong resident of Prince George’s County, I am deeply committed to ensuring that all receive ‘A Fair Forum for Justice.’ I congratulate Judge Adams on her retirement, which culminates her distinguished judicial career in Prince George’s County. I will work hard to ensure a smooth transition over these next few months.”
Judge Cotton has served as an associate judge in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County since October 2011, upon her appointment by then-Governor Martin O’Malley. From September
2006 to October 2011, she served on the District Court of Maryland, District 5, Prince George’s County, after being appointed by then-Governor Robert Ehrlich. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in business management from Hampton University in 1988 and a juris doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1991. She was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1991. Judge Cotton began her legal career as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland from 1991 to 1993.
Judge Cotton currently serves as vice-chair of the Judicial Council’s Domestic Law Committee. She also serves on the Guardianship and Vulnerable Adult Work Group, and as faculty member at the Maryland Judicial College, instructing on the issues of guardianship and family law. Judge Cotton is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association, Prince George’s County Bar Association, J. Franklin Bourne Bar Association, National Bar Association, National Association of Women Judges, National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges, Maryland Circuit Court Judges Association, Women’s Bar Association, National Guardianship Association, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. She also serves on the board of directors for Bishop McNamara High School, Forestville, Maryland.
Judge Cotton has received several awards and accolades, including being named to the Daily Record’s list of Maryland’s Top 100 Women in 2021. She received the Leadership Award from the Prince George’s County Health Department’s Adam’s House program in 2004 and the Woman of Achievement Award from the Lieutenant Governor’s Office in 2002. Judge Cotton also received the Governor’s Citation for Outstanding Service in 1998.
“I am thankful for all of the opportunities that the Judiciary has provided me to serve the people of this state and specifically, Prince George’s County,” said Judge Adams. “I leave my service as a judge proud of the strides the Judiciary has made in technology, service and improving access to justice, but mindful of the journey still ahead to make the court system accessible to all, while maintaining the integrity of the system and protecting the rights of all. I also congratulate my esteemed colleague, Judge Cotton, on her appointment, as she is uniquely qualified to fill this critical role.”
During Judge Adams’ tenure, the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County was expanded and modernized with technology and security enhancements. The circuit court has increased numerous services for the public through the expansion of its Problem-Solving Court Division, which includes adult and juvenile drug court, re-entry court, veterans court, juvenile diversionary court, and truancy court. Judge Adams also worked with Prince George’s County on the creation of the Family Justice Center, which has more than 21 partnering agencies providing connections to services for local residents.