Our State Constitution is clear, "all Government of right originates from the People ... and instituted solely for the good of the whole...." You are the government, and must not forget that or ever cede your rightful place within it. When you elected me, you simply delegated to me the authority to introduce and vote on legislation on your behalf. And while I may be one of your official voices here in Annapolis, you still must exercise your voice.
Government should be responsive to the people, bettering the communities that we reside within. You have entrusted me with a trust that I do not take for granted. Each day that I serve, I will always remember this and do my best to be responsive to your needs.
Maryland was 13th and final state to ratify the Articles of Confederation on January 30, 1781. This was after Virginia relinquished its claims on the land north of the Ohio River to Congress. On April 28, 1788, in its Convention of the Delegates of the People of the State of Maryland and by a 63 to 11 vote, Maryland became the seventh state to ratify the United States Constitution, joining the United States of America
Our federal government, the government of the United States of America, was adopted in 1789; it is composed of three separate branches with distinct functions and based on the principle of federalism, in which power is shared between the federal government and state governments. The powers of our federal government, and those three branches, are described within the U.S. Constitution. Those branches are the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The U.S. Constitution explicitly grants each branch certain powers which are held by the President, the Congress, and the federal courts, respectively.
The executive branch of the Federal Government include the President, Vice President and U.S. Departments and Agencies.
Resources for more information about the Executive branch include:
Through legislative debate and compromise, the U.S. Congress makes laws that influence our daily lives. It holds hearings to inform the legislative process, conducts investigations to oversee the executive branch, and serves as the voice of the people and the states in the federal government.
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and such number of Associate Justices as may be fixed by Congress. The number of Associate Justices is currently fixed at eight (28 U.S.C. §1). Power to nominate the Justices is vested in the President of the United States and appointments are made with the advice and consent of the Senate. Article III, §1, of the Constitution further provides that "[t]he Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office."
Resources and more information:
State governments control much of our everyday dealings. Under the U.S. Constitution's Tenth Amendment, states possess all powers not specifically granted to the federal government. Maryland adopted its first State Constitution in November 1776, its second in June 1851, third in October 1864 and fourth and our current State Constitution September 1867, each containing a declaration of rights - the State's bill of rights. The source of all power and authority for governing the State of Maryland lies with its citizens. In fact, Article I of the Constitution's Declaration of Rights states: "That all Government of right originates from the People, is founded in compact only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole; and they have, at all times, the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their Form of Government in such manner as they may deem expedient."
The framers of the State Constitution of 1867 followed precedent established in earlier Maryland constitutions and separated the powers of government into three distinct branches, explicitly grants each branch certain powers, which exercise certain checks and balances on each other. Those branches are the executive, legislative, and judicial branches; each representing Marylanders' interests in our relations with other governments.
The Governor is the head of the Executive Branch, like the chief executive officer of a company. The Governor's role is to implement and enforce Maryland's laws and provide executive direction to the government.
The Executive Branch consists of nineteen cabinet-level departments, independent agencies, executive commissions, and task forces. Many of those pronouncements as to how the law will be implemented and enforced are published bi-weekly in the Maryland Register.
The nineteen cabinet-level departments consist of:
- Agriculture Budget & Management
- General Services
- Health & Mental Hygiene
- Housing & Community Development
- Human Services
- Information Technology
- Juvenile Services
- Natural Resources
- Public Safety & Correctional Services
- State Police
- Veterans Affairs
The Governor is assisted by the Lieutenant Governor, who is elected with the Governor. The duties of the Lieutenant Governor are limited to those assigned by the Governor.
Other statewide executive officers also are provided for in the Constitution. Those Constitutional Officers are:
Critical to the success of the legislative process is the work of the General Assembly's committees. Although there are several types of committees, the standing committees are the backbone of the legislative process. The principal standing committees in the Senate and the House consider all statewide legislation and recommend to the General Assembly which legislation should pass and which should fail. Each legislator is appointed by the President or the Speaker to serve on one principal standing committee.
Since 1972, Maryland has had 47 legislative election districts based on population. Each of the General Assembly's 47 senators is elected from one of these districts. The Senate is composed of six Standing Committees. They are as follows:
Charles has served on the Judicial Proceedings Committee (“JPR”) in 2020. JPR is assigned legislation relating to:
- the Administrative Procedures Act
- commercial code
- constitutional amendments
- criminal and civil laws, penalties, and procedures
- equal rights and opportunities
- family law
- judicial administration and court structure
- juvenile justice
- landlord and tenant laws
- law enforcement organizations
- legal profession
- legal rights and immunities
- public safety
- real property
- trusts and estates
- vehicle laws
Charles served on the Judiciary Committee from 2015-2020. The Judiciary Committee is composed of twenty-two delegates and considers legislation relating:
- courts and judicial proceedings;
- administrative law;
- criminal and civil laws, penalties, and procedures;
- drunk and drugged driving;
- estates and trusts;
- family law;
- juvenile cases;
- the legal profession;
- legal rights and immunities; and
- jailable motor vehicle offenses.
Maryland has two appellate courts: the Court of Appeals, the highest court, and the Court of Special Appeals, the intermediate appellate court.
The Court of Appeals is the highest court in Maryland. The Chief Judge sits on the Court along with six other judges, hearing oral arguments on each case unless a judge removes him/herself from a case. The Court hears cases almost exclusively by way of certiorari, a process which gives the court discretion to decide which cases to hear. However, the Court of Appeals is mandated by law to hear cases involving the death penalty, legislative redistricting, removal of certain officers, and certifications of questions of law.
The Court of Special Appeals is Maryland’s intermediate appellate court. Unless otherwise provided by law, the Court considers any reviewable action of the circuit and orphans’ courts. Judges sitting on the Court of Special Appeals generally hear and decide cases in panels of three, but may also sit en banc (all 15 judges).
These courts review a trial court’s (District or Circuit Court) decisions in cases which have been appealed to them and the courts decide whether the trial judge followed the law and legal precedent.
Baltimore County is a part of the 2nd Appellate Judicial Circuit.
The State Reporter's Office publishes a monthly newsletter of called the Amicus Curiarum at the beginning of each month. The Amicus Curiarum contains abstracted highlights of selected appellate opinions.
All published appellate opinions, dating back to 1995, may also be obtained on the court’s website
A Circuit Court is a trial court which generally handles more serious criminal cases, major civil cases, including juvenile and other family law cases such as divorce, custody and child support and most cases appealed from the District Court, orphans’ courts and certain administrative agencies. A Circuit court also hears domestic violence cases. Cases may involve juries or sometimes are heard by a judge only.
The Baltimore County Circuit Court is open 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday except legal holidays.
District Courts are also trial courts which hear cases regarding motor vehicle (traffic) and boating violations and other misdemeanors and specified felonies, domestic violence and peace order petitions, landlord-tenant disputes, small claims and other civil cases involving limited dollar amounts, and replevin (recovery of wrongfully taken or detained goods). Unlike the Circuit Court, there are no jury trials in District Court.
Baltimore County has three District Courts which are open 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday except legal holidays. The three District Courts are located in Towson, Essex and Catonsville.
The Orphans’ Court is a specialized court that handles wills, estates, and other probate matters and limited aspects of guardianship. It is located at the County Courts Building in Towson, Maryland.
More information and resources:
Office of the Senator
This office is here to be a resource to and serve constituents of District 44. Outside of legislative duties, we also provide assistance in a variety of ways to constituents of 44. We are in Annapolis to help ensure that your concerns are voiced. If you ever plan to testify before a House committee, we can help provide copies to the committee or sign you up to testify.
Dealing with state agencies can sometimes be overwhelming, frustrating and time consuming. In these cases, my staff and I may be able to help advocate and expedite an appropriate, and hopefully positive, resolution. If you plan to visit our state capital, please contact my office as far in advance of your trip to Annapolis as possible, particularly if you wish to visit during the annual legislative session from January to early April.
If you plan to visit Annapolis, the chambers of the Senate and the House of Delegates are located on the first floor of the State House. The galleries for each chamber are located on the second floor and are open to the public. Please note, seating is limited and is available on a first-come-first-seated basis. Floor sessions usually begin at 8:00 p.m. on Monday evenings and at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Friday floor sessions usually start at 11:00 a.m.
My office can also help arrange any of the following on your behalf:
- A video about the General Assembly and the legislative process;
- A tour of the historic rooms and chambers of the Maryland State House;
- A tour of the legislative complex, including the Senate and House office buildings, the committee hearing rooms, and the tunnels linking the legislative buildings in the complex;
- Observation of proceedings from the House or Senate galleries when the legislature is in session and attending a committee hearing; and
- Tours of the governor’s residence, Government House, when available.
Be sure to bring a photo identification card, such as a driver's license. Temporary badges (stickers) are then issued and must be kept visible for the duration of the visit.
My Senatorial Scholarship application for the 2022-2023 application period is now closed. Please check back here on January 10, 2023 for our 2023-2024 scholarship application.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office.
To review my work in the General Assembly, you may visit my webpage on the General Assembly’s website.
General Assembly Page Program
During the legislative session, our high school seniors have the opportunity serve as student pages for two nonconsecutive weeks in either the Senate and the House of Delegates and to learn about the legislative process. Each year 105 pages and 36 alternates are selected from across the State to represent their schools and counties in Annapolis. Baltimore County and every other jurisdiction is allocated at least one page and one alternate position and receives additional positions based on its high school senior student population.
Maryland public and nonpublic high schools seniors, who are at least 16 years of age, and who are residents within the State of Maryland, are eligible to apply. If interested, you should apply through your school in September of your senior year. The selection is usually completed by October 31 of each year. If you have any questions, please contact:
Coordinator, Office of Social Studies
Baltimore County Public Schools
105 W. Chesapeake Avenue, Room #313
Towson, MD 21204
Baltimore County has a charter form of government, with a County Executive and a County Council.
Legislation is being considered by the County Council.
Additional resources and information: