6 District judge applicants get favorable ratings Panel's vote precedes Sept. 13 referendum by bar association

September 06, 1996|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

A 16-member committee of the Howard County Bar Association has granted favorable ratings to six District Court judge applicants in a vote that is meant to serve as a guide for the 400-plus member bar in a Sept. 13 referendum.

The results of the bar association's referendum -- where all members can vote -- are passed on to the county Judicial Nominating Commission, charged with evaluating all 16 applicants and sending a short list to Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who appoints the judge.

The referendum results are meant to be a tool for commission members in evaluating the applicants, said Barry Silber, one of the commission's 13 members. The commission will interview the applicants Sept. 18.

As a precursor to the referendum, the bar association's Judicial Selection Committee interviewed 14 of the 16 attorneys applying for the District Court seat vacated by the retirement of Judge R. Russell Sadler.

One applicant could not attend the interview and another declined to be interviewed, according to a letter sent to members of the bar association.

The applicants interviewed received votes of "highly recommend," "recommend," "not recommend" or "abstain." Not all the committee members were at the interviews so some candidates received more total votes than others.

Top applicants included Columbia attorney Neil E. Axel, who received six votes of highly recommend and four votes of recommend, and Assistant State's Attorney Sue Ellen Hantman, with seven votes of highly recommend.

"Hopefully, [this vote] will translate positively with the bar association," Hantman said.

Others who received favorable ratings were:

Alice Gail Clark, an assistant public defender in Howard County, with six votes of highly recommend and three votes of recommend.

Dario J. Broccolino, executive director of the Maryland State's Attorney Association, with 10 votes of recommend.

Bernard A. Raum, a master in chancery for the Howard Circuit Court, with five highly recommend votes and two recommend votes.

Assistant State's Attorney Michael Weal with five votes of highly recommend and two votes of recommend.

The lowest ranking -- six votes of not recommend -- was given to Christine Gage, chief of the District Court division of Howard's state's attorney's office. She also received one highly recommend vote and two recommend votes.

Axel said the results of the Judicial Selection Committee generally resemble the outcome of the referendum. "It would be unusual to see a wide swing," Axel said.

Pub Date: 9/06/96

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