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Rita CharmatzDavidson

Rita Charmatz Davidson’s career in the Maryland court system was a series of firsts, leading to her 1979 appointment as the first woman on the Maryland Court of Appeals, the highest judicial body in the state. Davidson graduated Yale Law School in 1951 and was in private practice from 1951–1967 in Washington, DC and Montgomery County, Maryland. She served on the Montgomery County Board of Appeals from 1960–1964 and secretary of the Maryland Department of Employment and Social Services from 1970–1972, making her the first woman member of the governor’s cabinet. In that post, she fought for women’s rights and created a Commission on the Status of Women. In 1972, she became the first woman judge on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. In 1979, she was elevated to fill an interim vacancy on the Maryland Court of Appeals, and in 1980, she was elected to a ten–year term. She became known for her opposition to the death penalty, her defense of patients’ rights to medical information, and her support of women’s rights and child welfare.

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Maryland lawyer Rita Davidson's life (1928 – 1984) was a series of firsts in her state, among them: the first woman to be appointed appellate judge, the first to be elected judge of the court of special appeals, and the first to sit on the state's highest judicial body—the Maryland Court of Appeals.

Institution: Private collection.

Date of Birth

Brooklyn, NY
United States

Date of Death
Lawyer, Activist, Judge

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rita Charmatz Davidson." (Viewed on December 8, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/davidson-rita>.


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