Sitting judges' foe seeks 'street fight' Del. DePazzo, 3 others hope to "mix it up" against 5 judges in Balto. Co.

December 26, 1991|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Evening Sun Staff B

Baltimore County Circuit Court judges must run once every 15 years to keep their spot on the bench, and the election is usually a sedate affair.

The 1992 campaign is shaping up quite differently, however.

Although the two incumbents who ran for re-election in 1990 were unopposed, this week's filing deadline saw four challengers lined up to contest the seats of the five judges seeking re-election in 1992.

"That's great," said Del. Louis L. DePazzo, a lawyer and legislator from Dundalk who is hoping to knock off one of the incumbents. "That's what I want, a street fight. It will be good to get them [the sitting judges] out of their inner sanctum."

The five incumbents -- Thomas J. Bollinger, J. Norris Byrnes, Robert E. Cahill Sr., Edward A. DeWaters Jr. and Christian M. Kahl-- have been campaigning since April.

They've sent out press releases and held at least one fund-raiser.

DePazzo, 59, announced his candidacy in June and said he was running to "send a message to the Towson crowd."

He charges that lawyers from the eastern and western ends of the county have been excluded from the Circuit Court bench, creating a geographical imbalance.

The newest member of the Circuit Court bench, John Owen Hennegan, a Perry Hall attorney with an office in Essex, said he agrees with DePazzo's claim, up to a point.

"Factually, what he's saying is correct," said Hennegan, 44. "Why that has occurred I haven't the slightest idea . . . I'm the only attorney who lived and worked on the east side to be appointed to the Circuit Court bench."

Some politicians say Hennegan's appointment may weaken DePazzo's claim that lawyers from the eastern end of the county are being ignored, but DePazzo doesn't agree.

He calls the judicial appointment process "a good ole boy network" and points to several judges who have had fathers on the bench.

Hennegan, for example, is the son of former Circuit Court Judge A. Owen Hennegan, who retired in June of 1990.

Two other Baltimore County Circuit Court judges, John G. Turnbull 2nd and J. Norris Byrnes, had fathers who were Baltimore County Circuit Court judges. Norris Byrnes also has a brother, John Carroll Byrnes, on the Circuit Court in Baltimore City.

"It seems that we breed judges like racehorses," commented DePazzo. "My position is why don't we let a Clydesdale in there and mix it up a bit."

Hennegan, said DePazzo, "practices in Essex. He lives in Perry Hall, but he came out of the racehorse set."

The other challengers are Albert G. Boyce, Joseph S. Lyons and Baltimore County District Court Judge A. Gordon Boone Jr..

Boone has been passed over for the Circuit Court bench the last two times the governor has made appointments.

Hennegan will be sworn in on Jan. 17. He is replacing Judge William R. Buchanan Sr., who retires Jan. 1. Hennegan would have to run for a full term in 1994.

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