House kills bills on judges' election

February 20, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS — The Carroll County edition of the Sunday Sun incorrectly reported the status of a bill sponsored by Del. Richard N. Dixon, a District 5A Democrat.

The Economic Matters Committee killed House Bill 514, which would have required an insurance company to provide written notice to a third-party claimant if a payment is made to the claimant's attorney.

The Sun regrets the error.

ANNAPOLIS -- Carroll Del. Richard N. Dixon's effort to make Maryland's judges campaign for their offices has been defeated for the second straight year.


The House Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to kill five bills that called for three constitutional amendments to change the system. If the legislation had been approved, residents would have voted in the November election on whether to approve the amendments.

Mr. Dixon, a Democrat, said Friday that he wasn't surprised by the votes, which ranged from 14-4 against the bills to 15-3 against them.

"I didn't expect them to pass it because there are too many lawyers on the committee," he said.

His legislation would have required district, circuit and appellate judges to be elected for six-year terms.

Voters deserve the opportunity to elect judges, Mr. Dixon said.

Robert C. Murphy, chief judge of the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, and Albert Winchester of the Maryland State Bar Association testified against the bill at a hearing Thursday.

Elections would make the judicial system too political, they said.

The governor appoints Court of Appeals and Court of Special Appeals judges, who run 10 years later on a yes/no ballot with no opposition.

The governor also appoints circuit judges, who then run for a 15-year term in an election at least one year after the vacancy the candidate was appointed to fill.

District judges are appointed by the governor to 10-year terms and do not run for election.

Lawmakers voted on several other bills sponsored by Mr. Dixon.

They concern:

* Insurance settlements. The House Economic Matters Committee voted to send House Bill 514 to the House floor. The bill would require insurance companies to provide written notice to a third party if the third party's liability claim is sent to an attorney or other representative.

* Property tax freeze for the elderly. The House Ways and Means Committee voted to kill House Bill 286, which would have capped property taxes for seniors. Mr. Dixon introduced the bill at the request of Charles E. Scott of Woodbine.

* Driver license re-examination. The House Commerce and Government Matters Committee killed House Bill 702, which would have required a driver to be retested if he or she caused an accident in which another person was hospitalized.

* Parole. The House Judiciary Committee killed House Bill 274, which would have abolished the parole system. The measure was one of 12 introduced this year to change the state parole system.

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