Waxter, ex-councilman, named city Circuit judge Governor also appoints first woman to judgeship on the Eastern Shore

July 31, 1996|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Thomas J. S. Waxter Jr., a former Baltimore City councilman, has won a long-coveted appointment to the city's Circuit Court, the governor's office announced yesterday.

Waxter, a partner in the law firm of Semmes Bowen & Semmes, was named to the seat formerly held by Circuit Judge David Ross, who retired.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening cited Waxter's "distinguished professional record in both the private and public sectors."

The selection of Waxter, 62, came on a day when the governor's office announced four judicial appointments, including that of the first woman to be named to a judgeship on the Eastern Shore.

Sally D. Adkins, a veteran lawyer and member of a prominent Shore family, was named to the Wicomico County Circuit Court.

Glendening, who has made a point of seeking greater diversity on the bench, called the appointment "long overdue."

Meanwhile, the governor also appointed John Philip Miller, a former assistant state's attorney in Baltimore, to the city's District Court.

Victor K. Butanis, a former Maryland assistant attorney general, was named to the Harford County District Court.

Waxter said yesterday his judgeship came through after he had been passed over in four previous tries for an appointment to the bench -- once by former Gov. William Donald Schaefer and three times by Glendening.

"My 92-year-old mother wrote the governor, and I didn't discourage her," Waxter said.

The former councilman, a Roland Park resident, represented the hTC 5th District as a Democrat from 1975 to 1987, when he made an unsuccessful attempt to unseat the late Hyman Pressman as city comptroller.

As a councilman, he had a reputation as an independent with a penchant for defending unpopular causes such as gay rights.

The patrician white Protestant showed his political skills in 1983 when he was re-elected in a district that had been redrawn so that most of his constituents were black or Jewish.

Waxter, an active supporter of Glendening in his 1994 gubernatorial campaign, said he understood why he was passed over in his earlier tries.

"He was interested in diversity and I didn't really represent that," said Waxter, who will replace a white judge.

As a Circuit Court appointee, Waxter will have to face the voters in the 1998 election.

If he is elected, he would be eligible to serve six more years until the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Adkins, 46, a partner in the law firm of Adkins & Allen, is past president of the Wicomico County Bar Association and the Eastern Shore Chapter of the Women's Bar Association.

She is a Republican who previously had been recommended by judicial nominating commissions for appellate judgeships, but was not appointed.

Miller, a partner in Wright, Constable & Skeen since 1992, replaces District Judge David W. Young, who was named to the Circuit Court.

Miller, 48, now is chairman of the Maryland State Bar Association's committee on law practice quality.

District Court judges are appointed by the governor to 10-year terms.

Pub Date: 7/31/96

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