If you walk or drive past the Kent County Courthouse on Cross St. you will notice that it bears a new name across its cornice—the George B. Rasin, Jr. Courthouse—honoring a former long-time Kent County native who presided over the judicial bench as the county’s first Circuit Court judge from 1960 to 1987.
As such, he oversaw five counties of the Eastern Shore’s Second Judicial Circuit and was considered by his peers to be a “giant” in the judiciary and “channel marker” for other judges.
The dedication was formalized last December but, due to the pandemic, the ceremony was postponed until May 15, 2021 and attended by Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera and members of the Maryland Judiciary including Administrative Judge Harris P. Murphy, Circuit Court for Kent County; Senior Judge Paul M. Bowman, Circuit Court for Kent County; District Court of Maryland Chief Judge John P. Morrissey; and retired Chief Judge Martha F. Rasin of the District Court of Maryland, and retired Maryland Circuit Court Judge Gale Rasin.
Originally from Worton, and a graduate of Washington College’s class of 1937 and the University of Maryland School of Law, George Rasin enlisted in the Army and was assigned to Counter-Intelligence until the end of World War II when he returned to Maryland.
A May 27, 2011 Baltimore Sun obituary stated that “According to a biography supplied by his family, he began his law practice in Baltimore in 1945 and returned to Kent County in 1946. In June 1950, he joined the U.S. foreign aid program and was a security officer in Paris. He resumed his law practice in Chestertown in 1952 and was elected state’s attorney for Kent County in November 1954. In 1956, he was appointed to serve as Kent County’s state senator.”
Later in his career Judge Rasin developed a keen interest in the overhaul of Maryland’s juvenile judiciary system, noting that punitive action alone failed and that youth crimes were symptomatic and could be addressed with rehabilitation included in the sentence. In 1997 he received the A.L. Carlisle Child Advocacy Award recognizing the member who had made a significant contribution to youth and the juvenile court system.
His daughter, retired Senior Judge Gale Rasin, writes, “when he saw that the system did not treat juveniles effectively or intelligently, he took action. We know the results—the Maryland juvenile code.”
As a father, Judge Rasin exhibited the same principles of mentorship he applied to all of his peer judiciary members.
“When I needed the courage to do something that I knew would be controversial or unpopular, I sought his advice and encouragement. While I tended to agonize he was blessed with ingrained certainty about doing what he thought was right. (He) was a model of civility and dedication to our system of justice and the Maryland judiciary. I know that he was a significant influence on my aspirations. I can only hope that he left his imprint on me,” writes Gale Rasin.
It did leave an imprint: since 2014, Judge Gale Rasin has been the Presiding Judge at the Mental Health Court, Baltimore City Circuit Court and continues to advocate for mental health issues.