Annapolis lawyer Vincent A. Mulieri was appointed yesterday to a seat on the county's District Court bench.
Mulieri, 52, will replace Judge Thomas J. Curley Jr., who retired in January.
"This is the best day I've had in a long time," an elated Mulierisaid after learning of his appointment. "It was something that I hadset as a goal and wanted to achieve."
Annapolis attorney Walter S. B. Childs, one of seven finalists for the job, said he called Mulieri to congratulate him and was told the county's newest judge was "walking on the ceiling."
Mulieri, an applicant for at least five previous judgeships, said he had wanted to be a judge since he was a member of the county State's Attorney's Office from 1967 to 1973.
"I saw the good effect judges can have on society. I wanted to do the same thing," he said.
Childs said he thought Mulieri will make a good judge because of "his easy-going approach to things, his experience, his legal skills."
County State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said Mulieri will bring common sense and fairness to the bench. "I think he has a lot of compassion and you're going to see that on the bench," Weathersbee said.
Assistant Public Defender James D. McCarthy Jr., another finalist for the position, said Mulieri "has been in the trenches and knows the lay of the land."
Mulieri, who earned a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina in 1960 and alaw degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore in 1963, began his career in the county Solicitor's Office, where he worked from 1964 until 1967, when he joined the county State's Attorney's Office.
In 1973 he joined the Annapolis law firm of Smith and Wohlgemuth as an associate. He started his own practice in 1982, and in 1986 he formed a partnership with Annapolis attorney Christopher L. Beard.
Mulieri said he had been operating a general practice that often brought him into the county's two district courts.
He said he thought he got the job based on his range of experience -- including the large amount of time he has spent in District Court over the years -- but he agreed that his close connection to Robert A. Pascal, the governor's appointments secretary, did not hurt his chances.
Mulieri said he has been representing Pascal for five or six yearsand the two have been friends since the 1960s.
Another opening will be created on the county's District Court bench when Judge Robert N. Lucke retires May 3.
Candidates to replace Lucke include the six unsuccessful finalists for Curley's job, five who applied for Curley's job but did not make the list of finalists and three new applicants, said Judith C. Levinson, legal officer for the state Administrative Office of the Courts.
Other unsuccessful finalists for Curley'sjob were private attorney Robert C. Wilcox, Assistant State's Attorney Frederick M. Paone and Circuit Court Masters James W. "Jack" Dryden and Essom V. Ricks.
The five who applied for Curley's position and renewed their application for Lucke's job are: private attorneys Philip T. Caroom and Charles J. Muskin; Assistant State's Attorneys Megan B. Johnson and Eugene M. Whissel II; and Otho M. Thompson, chief of litigation for Baltimore City.
The three new applicants are Assistant State's Attorney Robert David Fordham and private attorneys Lynn T. Krause and Elliott S. Newcomb.
Levinson said the county's 13-member judicial nominating commission will meet April 22 to decide on a list of finalists to send to the governor for consideration.
District Court judges serve 10-year terms.