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Former state Delegate Carmen Amedori dies

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Former state Delegate Carmen Amedori dies

Jun 12, 2024 | 8:41 pm ET
By Bryan P. Sears
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Former state Delegate Carmen Amedori dies
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Carmen Amedori, a Carroll County Republican, served in the House of Delegates from 1998 to 2002. Photo by Bryan P. Sears.

Carmen Amedori, a Republican Carroll County delegate who was a staunch advocate for gun rights, died Sunday after a lengthy battle with chronic kidney disease. She was 68.

Amedori developed a reputation as a vocal conservative with a passion for criminal and juvenile justice issues. Retired Maryland Supreme Court Chief Judge Joseph Getty, who also represented Carroll County in the House and who served on the Judiciary Committee with Amedori, remembers her as “very accomplished as a legislator.”

“She was extremely diligent in her work on the committee, especially having served as a district court commissioner prior to her service in the House of Delegates,” Getty said. “She was knowledgeable about real-life situations in criminal law.”

Getty said he was not surprised by her accomplishments as a legislator. “She had enough legal touch points that made her a very good member,” he said.

Getty said Amedori’s work did not stop when the legislative day ended.

“I had young children, so I liked to get back to Manchester as much as I could. When I would come in to sit on the floor at 10 a.m., Carmen filled me in with all the background stories and topics and everything that was going on in the House,” said Getty, adding that Amedori’s “network was very intense.”

Amedori battled kidney disease over the last six years. Nicole Amedori said her mom kept the nature of the condition to herself until her health rapidly declined last weekend and she entered home hospice care. She died peacefully at her home in Westminster.

Amedori was born Nov. 25, 1955, in Baltimore, the fourth of five children to Carmine “Mimi” Mario Amedori, who opened a Highlandtown Tavern after retiring as a foreman for a Baltimore contractor, and Delores Grace Amedori (nee Perry), a homemaker.

Former state Delegate Carmen Amedori dies
Former Carroll County Republican Delegate Carmen Amedori. Photo courtesy Amedori family.

She went to Franklin High School in the Reisterstown area of Baltimore County and later attended Villa Julie College, now known as Stevenson University, where she earned a degree in paralegal studies in 1975. Following graduation, Amedori worked as a paralegal in family, criminal and real estate law until 1985.

It was then that she worked briefly as a journalist, first for the Baltimore Sun and later the Carroll County Times. She won numerous awards for her reporting.

In 1991, she took a job as District Court commissioner in Carroll County.

In 1994, she served as campaign manager for her husband Jerry F. Barnes in his successful campaign for Carroll County state’s attorney. She was elected to the House in 1998 and re-elected four years later.

Republicans, then as now, were in the minority in the legislature. Some of Amedori’s former colleagues said the Carroll County lawmaker developed a reputation as a conservative firebrand, a bomb-thrower some nicknamed “Carmen Armageddon.”

Bobby Zirkin, the former chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, served with Amedori on the House Judiciary Committee in 2003 when it debated legislation to allow cannabis research and create an medicinal-use defense for people charged with possession.

“We have legalized cannabis now,” said Zirkin. “We wouldn’t have that without passing a medical cannabis program and we wouldn’t have had medical cannabis without passing the Darrell Putnam Compassionate Use Act. And that wouldn’t have passed without Carmen Amedori’s vote.”

The bill, sponsored in prior years by Del. Don Murphy (R-Baltimore County), had failed. Del. Joseph Vallario, then-chairman of Judiciary, opposed the bill on the grounds that the state should not pass laws that conflict with federal laws. Zirkin said Vallario had the votes to kill the bill, and Amedori, a rule-of-law Republican, was one of them.

“So, we’re fighting, we’re debating, and Carmen is very quiet, and she was a no vote,” said Zirkin. “I mean, she had always been a strident no vote on that.”

But Getty, who was on the committee at the time, voted for the bill, citing his mother’s battle with cancer. When the roll call came to Amedori, she changed her mind and voted to move the bill out of committee.

“As soon as she does this, the chairman slams his hand on a book or the desk, yelling and mumbling at the same time as only he can do,” Zirkin said. “You couldn’t quite understand what he was saying, just picking up little words like marijuana, federal law. I think he may have used some profanity but I’m not 100% sure. He just stands up and says, ‘We’re done,’ and walks out in the middle of the vote.”

Soon after, lawmakers struck a compromise that did not legalize the drug but created the medicinal use defense. That was passed and signed into law by then-Gov. Robert Erhlich.

Her daughters Nicole and Kara described their mother as “a force,” with Kara saying it “was because of things like that” that her mother earned the “Carmen Armageddon” nickname.’

Amedori also enjoyed reading and painting, Nicole said.

Two years into her second term, she was nominated for a spot on the Maryland Parole Commission by Ehrlich, and served on the commission until 2010.

She briefly ran as a lieutenant governor candidate in 2010 on a ticket opposing Ehrlich in the GOP primary, but later withdrew and encouraged Republicans to back Ehrlich.

“Carmen Amedori amassed an enviable resume in public service over the course of her professional career,” Ehrlich said in a post on Facebook. “She was a stellar member of the Maryland General Assembly and Maryland Parole Commission. Most importantly, she was a good friend — steadfast political competitor — and reliable advocate for conservative causes from Annapolis to Washington. She will truly be missed.”

Amedori is preceded in death by her former spouse Jerry Barnes, her parents, her sister Carol Ann Amedori Long and brothers Joseph “Ricci” Ricardo Amedori and John Patrick Amedori I.

Beside daughters Nicole, of Baltimore, and Kara, a Florida resident, she is survived her husand, Timothy Wade Headley, and by a sister, Mariea Amedori of Ocean Pines.

A memorial service for Amedori is planned for a later date.