Field Narrowed To 6 For Seat On Carroll District Court

January 13, 1991|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — They make up half a jury, twice an Orphan's Court bench or six timesthe number of county state's attorneys.

They can be seen as bunchof lawyers, a collection of counselors or a swarm of solicitors.

Call them what you want today, but in a few weeks you'll call one of them "Judge."

The state Judicial Nominating Commission last week announced its nominees for the vacancy on the Carroll District Court bench. The commission met Wednesday to narrow the field of 17 applicants to six.

The names of the five men and one woman who were nominated by the commission were forwarded to Gov. William Donald Schaefer Thursday, said Michael V. O'Malley, assistant administrator of state courts.

The governor has no time limit for making a decision, but whoever is nominated must close his or her private practice within 30 days.

The 13-member panel selected Westminster attorneys Wesley D. Blakeslee, 43; Marc G. Rasinsky, 41; Charles M. Preston, 44; Frank Douglas Coleman, 40; and Melvin Michael Galloway, 45; and Hampstead attorney JoAnn Ellinghaus-Jones, 34. The post pays $82,300 a year.

Rasinsky, the president of the Carroll County Bar Association, and Preston have been nominated for county Circuit Court vacancies twice in the past two years.

Four other applicants -- nominee Blakeslee, Westminsterattorneys Michael S. Levin and V. Lanny Harchenhorn, and Reisterstown attorney James A. Gede -- also have applied in the past for vacancies on the Circuit Court.

Of those, only Levin was nominated for the county's highest court.

Because the current vacancy on the District Court is the first in 10 years, O'Malley said he was not surprised by the large number of applicants.

Of all the applicants, probably the best-known was Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman, who wasnot chosen by the commission.

Hickman, who was sworn in Tuesday forhis fifth term as chief county prosecutor, said he decided to apply for the job because the opportunity doesn't arise very often.

"I love what I am doing now, so I won't be unhappy no matter what happens,"Hickman said. "Applying for this is not something you do when you want to do it. It's something you do when the opportunity is there."

Other attorneys who submitted their names for consideration were Westminster attorneys W. Glenn Speicher Jr. and Francis X. Walsh Jr, Baltimore attorney John S. Constantinides and Howard County attorney Bernard Lee Taylor.

In addition to Ellinghaus-Jones, three other women applied, which is believed to be a first for Carroll County, according to O'Malley.

Towson attorney Carol L. McCulloch, Baltimore City attorney Carolyn Jean McElroy and Senior Carroll Public Defender Martha Ann Sitterding each submitted a 42-question form and were interviewed by the nominating commission.

All the applicants had to be residents of Carroll County, but their law practices could be in other parts of the state, O'Malley said.

District Judge Donald M. Smith said last week he will be eager to have a second judge permanently on the Carroll bench again, but added that there hasn't been a backlog of cases since Arnold's promotion.

"We've been able to keep pretty well up to date with our cases with the help of visiting judges," said Smith."As long as the court work is kept up to date, I think we can handlethe office work."

The vacancy on the District Court was created when Schaefer appointed Arnold, 61, to serve on the Circuit Court.

Arnold had served on the District Court since 1980.

He was sworn in to the Circuit Court bench Dec. 27, and began hearing cases last week.

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