ANNAPOLIS -- Judge Arrie W. Davis, a 50-year-old former prosecutor who has spent seven years on the Baltimore City Circuit Court bench, was appointed yesterday to the state Court of Special Appeals.
His appointment raises to two the number of black judges on Maryland's second-highest court, which has 13 members.
Delegate Curtis S. Anderson, D-Baltimore, a lawyer and former chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, said black lawyers in Baltimore heard rumors of the appointment Friday and were elated.
"It is fantastic," Mr. Anderson said, calling it a sign that Gov. William Donald Schaefer "is very sensitive" to the need to appoint and promote minorities to judicial posts.
"Schaefer's last several appointments have been very encouraging," Mr. Anderson said.
Since October, the governor has promoted two black District Court judges -- Andre Maurice Davis, 41, and Paul A. Smith, 54 -- to the Baltimore Circuit Court.
The issue of racial balance on the city's 25-member circuit bench -- where Judge Arrie Davis was one of nine blacks -- is expected to figure in the debate on a proposed constitutional amendment, favored by the governor and the state's chief judge, to end the requirement that Circuit Court judges stand for election.
Black leaders have opposed the change, pointing out that blacks make up only about a third of Baltimore's Circuit Court while the city population is estimated to be 60 percent black.
Judge Arrie Davis was named to fill a vacant Baltimore seat on the appeals court. The appointment, which requires Senate confirmation, runs until the next statewide general election in 1992. Under Maryland law, appellate judges must seek a full 10-year term by running on their records, without opposition, for continuation in office.
There has been no discussion in the governor's office of abolishing the retention elections for appellate judges. Judge Davis joined the Circuit Court in 1983 after serving less than two years on the city District Court bench. The Morgan State University and University of Baltimore Law School graduate had previously served as a state prosecutor and assistant attorney general.
On the city bench, he is considered even-handed, favoring neither defense attorneys nor prosecutors, Delegate Anderson said.
"He can be very impatient with young lawyers who don't know what's going on or waste the court's time with irrelevant or immaterial questioning," Mr. Anderson added.
In one widely publicized case he handled, Judge Davis gave 25-year and 20-year prison sentences, respectively, to the father and mother of 2-year-old Brandy Simpkins, who died of dehydration and starvation in her crib one year ago. The Brooklyn couple was convicted of denying her food and water.
In another recent case, Judge Davis sentenced a 77-year-old man with acute leukemia to time served after he pleaded guilty to dealing drugs. The suspect had been held for eight months before his trial, part of it in the University of Maryland Cancer Center.
One vacancy remains on the Court of Special Appeals, following the promotion of Judge Robert L. Karwacki to the Court of Appeals.