One of the highest-ranking attorneys in state government was named Anne Arundel's new county attorney Friday. County Executive Robert R. Neall appointed Deputy Attorney General Judson P. Garrett to succeed Stephen R. Beard, who resigned Tuesday. Garrett, one of two Maryland deputy attorney generals, ranks below only Attorney General J. JosephCurran Jr.
"We could find no finer or more qualified person to assume the person of Anne Arundel county attorney," Neall said in a written statement.
Garrett, a 53-year-old Sherwood Forest resident, has served with the attorney general's office since 1987. He was an assistant attorney general from 1971 to 1979 and served as chief legislative officer for Gov. Harry Hughes from 1979 to 1980.
From 1980 to 1987, Garrettwas a partner with the Baltimore law firm of Tydings and Rosenberg.
He will receive an annual salary of $84,558, about $1,000 morethanhe now earns.
Garrett, a life-long Democrat, said he has known Neall since the latter was a state delegate in the mid-1970s.
"BobbyNeall has a lot to do with why I took the job," Garrett said. "I have a great deal of admiration for Bobby."
Neall had talked with himabout the job earlier this year, Garrett said, but he had been nominated for a vacancy on the Court of Special Appeals. He was not appointed.
When Beard announced he was leaving, Neall called again to offer him the job.
"Five years of being deputy attorney general is enough," he said. "It's a very challenging job. Joe Curran is a real gentleman and I will miss working for him, but it's time to move on tosomething else."
Garrett's appointment came just three days afterBeard announced he was leaving government to pursue job offers in the private sector.
"(Neall) was working on it before we could make it public that Beard was leaving," said Louise Hayman, Neall's press secretary. "Judd Garrett is somebody Bobby has known for many years. Getting somebody in here of his caliber didn't take a whole lot of discussion."
Garrett is a member of the Rules Committee of the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court.
He has worked with the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services as regional supervisorand juvenile probation officer for Cecil County and serves as vice chairman of the Governor's Juvenile Justice Advisory Council, the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services Advisory Council and the U.S. District Court Advisory Group.
Garrett graduated from St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore. "I was studying for the priesthood, and after four years, I decided I wanted to get married someday," he said. "But itwas an invaluable experience."
While working for Juvenile Services in the 1960s, he attended law school at night at the University of Maryland at Baltimore.
He will assume his new post in early November. Garrett said he doesn't want to say what changes, if any, he would make until he's had time to settle in. The state attorney general'soffice has about 330 lawyers, he said. The county's law office has about 14.
"It's an opportunity for me to move into a smaller office," he said. "I understand the office was well-run. I don't anticipatemaking changes."