Bothe to stay, hoping governor grants extension Term of circuit judge, rejected for renomination, officially ends today

November 03, 1995|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

Judge Elsbeth Levy Bothe's term on the Baltimore Circuit Court bench officially ends today -- but the judge, snubbed for reappointment by a nominating commission, says she will remain on the bench in the hope that Gov. Parris N. Glendening will extend her career.

Baltimore's 13-member judicial nominating commission voted two weeks ago not to nominate Judge Bothe to retain the seat she has held for 17 years. It was the first time in memory a sitting circuit judge has not been reappointed to stand for re-election in Maryland.

Assistant state Attorney General Kathryn M. Rowe said that under state law, Judge Bothe can stay past the end of her term until a replacement is appointed by the governor and sworn in.

"I'm hoping to stay," Judge Bothe said yesterday. "I don't think it's right or fair for me to walk away at this point."

The president of the Maryland Judicial Conference, which represents all state judges, wrote to nominating commission Chairman George Russell Jr. voicing "deep concerns over the process" and asking that Judge Bothe be reconsidered. Mr. Russell did not return a phone call.

Other supporters also questioned a process they said was unfair to sitting judges because it evaluates community activities that a judge could not participate in while maintaining a position of impartiality.

But Marilyn J. Corbett, a spokeswoman for the governor, said interviews for the Baltimore Circuit bench are scheduled to begin Monday. She said the governor is expected to make appointments for three seats, including Judge Bothe's, soon afterward.

"He will be using the list that he has," Ms. Corbett said. "He wants to rely on the decisions of the nominating commission."

The commission, made up of six citizens and seven attorneys, gave no reason for its action. But several members acknowledged that they considered several cases in which Judge Bothe had been admonished by appellate courts for interrupting testimony. And there was debate in legal circles about whether it was appropriate for Judge Bothe, 68, to seek reappointment when she would have less than a year after next year's election to serve before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.

"We are asking them to reconsider in light of the process and provide her the opportunity to respond if in fact there are serious contentions," said Baltimore County Circuit Judge James T. Smith Jr., president of the Judicial Conference.

Several of Judge Bothe's supporters have questioned whether the governor legally could choose a candidate who had not applied for the vacancy created by the expiration of Judge Bothe's term. All eight candidates the commission submitted for the judge's position had applied either for the Baltimore court's other two vacancies, or for previous judgeships.

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