The state's chief judge is going into mandatory retirement today, but Gov. Parris N. Glendening said yesterday he needs more time to pick a successor.
Glendening said Court of Appeals Judge John C. Eldridge has agreed to serve as the court's acting chief judge until the governor announces his choice to succeed Judge Robert C. Murphy.
The governor told Eldridge he would need up to two more weeks to make what some of his advisers have called one of the most important appointments he will make, a Glendening spokesman said.
"I am very cognizant of the tremendous importance and significance of this appointment," Glendening said in a statement. "I am conferring with legislative leadership and prominent leaders in the legal community to be absolutely certain that we select the most qualified person."
The chief judge of the Court of Appeals oversees the entire Maryland judiciary and wields strong influence with the legislature over judicial matters. Murphy has been chief judge since 1972.
Several lawmakers and others said Glendening has narrowed the list of candidates to two -- Court of Appeals Judge Robert M. Bell and Court of Special Appeals Judge Alan M. Wilner. Court of Appeals Judge Irma S. Raker also is regarded as a candidate.
Prominent African-American officials have launched a strong campaign on behalf of Bell, who is black. Members of the Legislative Black Caucus were scheduled to meet with Glendening this morning to push for Bell.
But several prominent elected officials are backing Wilner, citing his experience administering the state's second-highest court, the Court of Special Appeals, the past six years.
Eldridge, the senior member of the seven-judge Court of Appeals, has served on the court since 1974.
Pub Date: 10/09/96