Only three people are in contention for a vacancy on the Baltimore Circuit bench -- perhaps the smallest number of candidates in the city's history, according to an assistant state court administrator.
The vacancy was created by the retirement of Judge Joseph I. Pines, who will be 70 today. Judge Pines officially retired Friday after serving 12 years, but he has been reappointed to serve up to 90 days in a lawsuit against five asbestos manufacturers.
The three candidates are: John Martin Glynn, the head of the state's Office of the People's Counsel; Albert Matricciani Jr., a partner with Whiteford, Taylor and Preston; and Baltimore District Judge Carol E. Smith, whose name was kept in a pool when she applied a year ago for another vacancy.
Applications for Judge Pines' vacancy were open from Jan. 6 through Jan. 29. The vacancy was advertised in legal publications. The job pays $89,000 annually.
Judges appointed to the Circuit Court must run for full 15-year terms in the next statewide election after their appointments.
Michael V. O'Malley, an assistant state court administrator, had no explanation for the lack of interest in the judgeship. But, traditionally, fewer people apply for Circuit Court vacancies than for District Court judgeships, although Circuit judges earn more, he said.
"The difference is the elections," Mr. O'Malley said. "You have to run in a competitive election, and that's a grueling and difficult path" for many.
In the past, black leaders have voiced concern about few black appointments to the Circuit Court. The last black appointed to Baltimore Circuit Court was Judge Paul A. Smith in 1990. Judge Pines is white, and no black candidates are seeking his seat.
Among the 25 Baltimore Circuit judges, eight are black, including one woman, Mabel Houze Hubbard.
Mr. Glynn, 45, was appointed in 1986 to head the Office of the People's Counsel, which represents Marylanders' concerns in utility and public service matters.
He received a history degree from the Johns Hopkins University in 1968. After serving in the Vietnam War, he earned a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1974.
Mr. Matricciani, 45, received a degree in English literature from Villanova in 1969, a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1973, and a master's degree in liberal arts from Hopkins in 1975.
A former legal aid lawyer, he was named a partner with Whiteford, Taylor and Preston in 1987.
Judge Smith, 45, was appointed to the District Court of Maryland in September 1985 and is in charge of the east side District Court.
She received a bachelor's degree from the College of Notre Dame in 1970 and a law degree from Catholic University in 1975. Judge Smith is a former legal aid lawyer.
The Judicial Nominating Commission meets Feb. 26 to review the applications.