Mabel Houze Hubbard

(1936 - 2006)

A graduate of the University of Michigan in 1958, Mabel Houze Hubbard taught and was a supervisor in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania school systems.  Subsequently, she continued her education and received her Juris Doctorate degree in 1975 from the University of Maryland.  Soon, her legal skills attracted the attention of the City Solicitor of Baltimore and she became his law clerk. 

Mabel Houze Hubbard is the first African-American female attorney appointed to any bench in the State of Maryland. One year after her admission to the Maryland Bar, Mrs. Hubbard was appointed, Master-in-Chancery for the Supreme Bench for Baltimore City, now, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.  This was a significant feat, since she was less than five years out of law school.  This appointment was made in recognition of her knowledge of and experience with children as well as the law.  As a Master, she concentrated on juvenile cases from 1978 to 1981 and, during that time, earned a reputation for both fairness and empathy. 

Her professional accomplishments continued and in 1981, Governor Harry Hughes appointed Mabel Hubbard to the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City.  Four years later, Governor Hughes again appointed her, this time, to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, where she served until her retirement in 1999.    Her appointments, both at the pleasure of the court as Master and later, as judge for the District or Circuit courts recognized the contributions African-American women made to the Maryland Bar since their first admission in 1950.

Judge Hubbard is a role model on many fronts: mother of two sons, wife of a city employee and a lawyer only after a career as a public school teacher and administrator.  She is remembered for her deliberate judicial temperament, her agile mind and spicy, witty sayings called "Hubbardisms."

Judge Mabel Hubbard's appointment promoted cultural diversity by developing the careers of many African-American female attorneys.  By her example, Judge Hubbard affected the gender and race of the Bar Association in Baltimore, by encouraging women to pursue legal careers.  As mentor to a dozen law clerks, Judge Hubbard inspired many to litigate both as civil and criminal attorneys.  She used her teaching experience and taught recent law graduates not only how to write like lawyers, but to think like lawyers as well.  She taught each of the dozen female African-American clerks she hired not only to value the practice of law, but to value a life well lived.

A former public school English teacher and administrator, Judge Hubbard changed careers at middle age.  Throughout law school, Judge Hubbard raised two elementary school aged sons.  By doing so, she became the role model for career changes and working mothers.  A soft-spoken woman, she became an instant celebrity.  She responded to numerous requests to speak and meet with school and civic groups.  In a city where 70% of the population is African-American, Judge Hubbard became a favored judicial representative.  She shared her unique accomplishments freely with the community and acknowledged that the benefit of her appointments was more than personal.

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 2002.

© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2002