Suitors line up for job of District Court judge set to retire in May

March 07, 1995|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

Although District Judge Donald M. Smith won't retire until May 1, Carroll's legal community already is speculating about who will replace him.

The field apparently is as diverse as the county's 100-member bar, and includes lawyers and former prosecutors who tried unsuccessfully to win the seat when it opened in 1991. Joann Ellinghaus-Jones was tapped then by Gov. William Donald Schaefer to replace District Judge Francis M. Arnold. Judge Arnold took the Circuit Court seat vacated by Donald J. Gilmore.

"I understand from the grapevine that virtually everybody is interested in it," Judge Smith said Friday.

Names on the lists of most legal observers include former State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman, Westminster City Councilman Damian L. Halsted, former Assistant State's Attorney Michael M. Galloway, former Bar Association President Marc G. Rasinsky and local defense attorney Charles M. Preston.

Mr. Hickman said last week that he was "enjoying private practice very much." While he didn't rule out trying for the $84,000-a-year-post, he said he wanted to stay out of public life "for a while."

Mr. Halsted, who has clerked for Judge Gilmore and for a Maryland appellate judge, said he would be interested in assuming a job in the judiciary. "I think it is the most important branch of government," Mr. Halsted said Friday. "The decisions made on the bench have a direct impact on people."

Mr. Preston said last week that he is considering the job.

State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes, mentioned as a possible judicial candidate, said Friday he had no interest in the job.

Mr. Galloway and Mr. Rasinsky could not be reached for comment.

Judge Smith's retirement was announced last week. The 63-year-old jurist is one of only three original members of the state's District Court, which was founded in 1971.

Judge Smith said last week that he doesn't know what he'll do in retirement, but that returning to the practice of law is not high on his list.

"I hope I can spend some time with my grandchildren," the Taneytown-area resident said. Judge Smith said he would most miss "coming in everyday and hearing what kinds of problems people have and trying to sort everything out."

The Carroll judicial vacancy is the 14th judicial post that Gov. Parris N. Glendening will have to fill, according to Michael O'Malley, assistant state court administrator.

The governor is rethinking the way judges are nominated in Maryland, Mr. O'Malley said, so determining how or when Judge Smith's replacement may be made is difficult.

In a process used since the 1970s, panels made up of seven attorneys and six citizens were charged with recommending candidates to the governor. The governor would interview the candidates, then make his choice.

During his two terms, Governor Schaefer made 162 judicial appointments. Maryland has 247 judges.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.