Maryland has a unique system for appointing and electing Circuit Court Judges. A nominating commission recommends candidates to the Governor who appoints Circuit Court Judges who serve until the next regular election where they are required to stand for election in which any member of the bar may challenge them for the position. Maryland Circuit Court elections were generally boring affairs until the last 20 years in which there has been more challengers and more insurgent victories
Circuit Court Judicial Election Update
By Danny Jacobs, Daily Record February 26, 2014
Tuesday’s paper had a story about the first contested judicial election in Baltimore since 2006. But the city is not the only jurisdiction with a contested judicial election later this year. Here are the other contested races as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Board of Election’s candidate listings. The filing deadline was Tuesday night:
•In Baltimore County, Judge Justin J. King and Judges Colleen A. Cavanaugh, Julie L. Glass and Paul J. Hanley, who were appointed Monday, are being challenged by Kelby Brick, a deaf Catonsville attorney who runs his own consulting business, and Master Paul J. Hanley.
•In Carroll County, Judge Fred S. Hecker, who was appointed last month, is being challenged by Westminster solo practitioner Steven L. Tiedemann.
•In Cecil County, Judge Brenda A. Sexton is being challenged by Elkton solo practitioner Kevin Urick.
•In Charles County, Judges Jerome R. Spencer and H. James West (who was appointed Monday) are being challenged by Thomas R. Simpson Jr., a court auditor. Both West and Simpson’s names were forwarded to O’Malley by the judicial nominating commission.
•In Frederick County, Judge Danny B. O’Connor, who was appointed last month, is being challenged by former Frederick County State’s Attorney Scott L. Rolle, now in private practice in Frederick.
•In Montgomery County, Judges Gary E. Bair, Audrey A. Creighton (who was appointed Monday), Nelson W. Rupp Jr. and Joan E. Ryon are being challenged by Daniel Patrick Connell, a trial attorney from Poolesville.
•In Wicomico County, Judge Jimmy Sarbanes, who was appointed Monday, is being challenged by Melvin Caldwell Jr. of Caldwell & Whitehead P.A. in Salisbury. Both men’s names were sent to O’Malley by the Judicial Nominating Commission.
Sitting judges are running unopposed in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Harford, Prince George’s and Washington counties.
The last time a challenger won in a Baltimore city judicial election was 1982, when Judges Peter Ward and James Perrott were defeated, according to Mark Stichel, chairman of the Baltimore City Sitting Judges Committee. Then, in 1990, there was the unique story of District Court Judge Paul Smith. According to Stichel
Smith challenged the sitting judges and won a general election slot by being among the top vote getters in the Democratic primary. However, Gov. [William Donald] Schaefer appointed him to the circuit court between the primary election and the general election and he withdrew his challenge. Judge Smith then ran and was elected as a sitting judge in 1992.