Judge Nichols was born and raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland where his family has resided for generations. He was appointed a Judge of the Circuit Court in 1992, elected to a fifteen year term in November, 1994, and again in 2012. Prior to that, he served as Judge of the District Court of Maryland from 1985 and was twice elected a Judge of the Orphans Court where he served from 1977 until 1985. He has presided over 663 civil and criminal jury trials, over twenty five of which were first degree murder trials and two capital murder cases.
He served as the 19th Chief Judge of Maryland’s Seventh Judicial Circuit since its creation in 1867 immediately following the Civil War. He clerked for the 12th Chief Judge, the late Ernest A. Loveless, Jr. In 2016 he received the 19th Annual Sodaro Award for “good judicial temperament, civility, and courtesy” from the Maryland State Bar Association as well as the Award for Legal Excellence in Public Service Responsibility in 2010 from the Maryland Bar Foundation. He was the recipient of the 2018 Brig. General Philip Sherman Award from the Maryland State Bar, Veterans Affairs & Military Law Committee.
He was proud to wear the four broad stripes of a Captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve. During his thirty-seven years of military service, he has had tours of duty as a General Courts-Martial Judge and served as a member of the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, the service’s highest uniformed court. Captain Nichols was the first reservist in the nation to be ordered to the Court twice for duty as an appellate military judge. He twice served as a Commanding Officer.
He has performed duties at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy; the U.S. Embassy in Honduras; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; aboard the USS Kidd (DDG-993) and most recently in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. During the first Persian Gulf War, he was called to active duty and served in Rota, Spain.
Since his military retirement in 2007, he has served as Fleet Professor in the National Security Affairs Department of the U.S. Naval War College. He started his tenth year teaching the Theater Security Decision Making seminar to members of the faculty and staff at the U.S. Naval Academy earning their Master’s Degree.
He served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Dimensions HealthCare System and successfully led it to its 2017 merger with the University of Maryland Medical System and became its largest partner. He has been the Chair of the Patuxent District of the Boy Scouts America since 2013 and is pleased to lead its 3,000 Boy Scouts and 1,200 adult leaders.
He received his A.B. from Georgetown University, his J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law, and his M.A. (with highest distinction) from the U.S. Naval War College.