Black coalition opposes list of finalists for judge Group says choices don't reflect applicants' diversity

September 22, 1996|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Caitlin Francke contributed to this article.

Using a tactic that has been successful in Howard County judicial appointments, a black group will ask Gov. Parris N. Glendening to reject a list of District Court finalists drafted last week, saying it doesn't reflect the diversity of the applicants.

The African-American Coalition, which represents 50 county organizations, voted late Thursday to oppose the list, drafted by the 13-member county Judicial Nominating Commission.

That panel recommended that Glendening choose a new judge from among five white men and two women, one of whom is black.

Five blacks and seven women were among the 16 applicants for the position. Of the six white men who applied, five were selected as finalists.

"Because several qualified African-Americans applied, just taking one does not satisfy us," said the Rev. Robert Turner, the coalition leader. "We want to make sure all African-American candidates were seriously considered."

Glendening spokesman Raymond C. Feldmann said the governor would review the list of finalists this week in tandem with the coalition request.

"The governor has made it clear throughout his entire administration that appointments will reflect the diversity of the entire state," Feldmann said.

He added that he cannot speculate on when the District Court appointment may be made.

The coalition, along with County Councilman C. Vernon Gray and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, made the same request of Glendening last year when a nominating commission offered its list of finalists for the county's Circuit Court.

Circuit Judge Donna Hill Staton, the county's first black judge, was appointed by the governor in November after Gray and the '' two groups intervened.

Hill Staton and the other Howard judge Glendening appointed, Diane O. Leasure, are being challenged in the Nov. 5 general election by District Judge Lenore R. Gelfman and attorney Jonathan Scott Smith.

Gray did not criticize the most recent list.

"I'm certain they selected people who are well-qualified for the District Court," he said.

State Del. Frank S. Turner said he disagreed with the coalition's actions.

"We can't get to the point where every list is sent back for #F reconsideration," said Turner, a Democrat. "I would have liked to see more African-Americans on the list, but I think it has excellent candidates."

In a letter to be sent to Glendening by tomorrow, the coalition will ask that the list be amended to include Alice Gail Clark, an assistant public defender in Howard County for five years, and James E. Henson, administrator of the county Office of Human Rights and former assistant county solicitor. Both are black.

The one black candidate who did make the list was Pamila Junette Brown, 42, an assistant attorney general for the past nine years and deputy counsel to the state treasurer.

"We have no problem with them putting her on the list," Turner said. "We applaud them for that.

Pub Date: 9/22/96

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