Arnick: Disallow unconfirmed judges

February 18, 1994|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Sun Staff Writer

Del. John S. Arnick, speaking from painful personal experience, urged a House committee yesterday to change Maryland's Constitution so that future judicial appointees are not permitted to take the bench until after they have been confirmed by the state Senate.

Last year, after Mr. Arnick was appointed to the Baltimore County District Court, he resigned his seat in the legislature, gave up his law practice, put on the judicial robes and began hearing cases.

Then, amid allegations that he had made vulgar and sexist comments about women during a dinner meeting with two female lobbyists a year earlier, the Dundalk Democrat watched his Senate confirmation unexpectedly go up in flames.

Forced to withdraw from consideration after a bitter and divisive 10-day struggle, Mr. Arnick found himself jobless -- no longer a judge, a legislator, or even a practicing lawyer.

"I had to give up everything," he calmly reminded the House Judiciary Committee, a panel he chaired at the time he was appointed to the bench. "The clients I did have, I had to tell them, 'I am no longer a lawyer.' I had to tell them to find themselves another lawyer."

Mr. Arnick is joining Del. Dana Lee Dembrow, a Montgomery County Democrat, in sponsoring a proposed constitutional amendment. The two urged the committee to send the proposed amendment to the full House, and ultimately to the voters in the fall.

Mr. Arnick regained his old seat in September, chosen by county Democratic officials after the death of the man who had replaced him in the legislature, Edward G. "Nipper" Schafer.

After yesterday's hearing, Mr. Arnick said he also has started up his law practice again, but still does not have the number of clients he once had.

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