Thieme promoted to Special Appeals Judge named despite admitting he didn't vote for Glendening

November 01, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr., who presided over some of the most important trials in the county's history, was elevated to the Court of Special Appeals yesterday by Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Thieme, 65, of Pasadena, was appointed despite acknowledging during Republican candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey's suit to overturn the outcome of the 1994 gubernatorial election that he did not vote for the man who has just promoted him.

Thieme said that he recalled making the comment -- which was reported in news accounts -- but that he did not think about its effect on his chances when he applied for a judgeship on the state's second-highest court this year.

"That was never a consideration when I put in for this. It never entered my mind," Thieme said.

Thieme will receive a raise from $96,500 to $100,300 and have two law clerks instead of one.

On the Court of Special Appeals, which sits in Annapolis, Thieme will be one of 13 judges who hear cases in three-judge panels and publish opinions that become Maryland law.

Rulings of this intermediate appeals court are subject to review by the Court of Appeals.

Lawyers and judges yesterday expressed regret at Thieme's departure and wondered how he would be replaced.

"He'll be sorely missed," said Alan R. Friedman, the Anne Arundel County public defender. "It'd be almost impossible for any one judge to pick up that workload."

Friedman said he hoped to meet in the next few weeks with court administrator Robert Wallace and Administrative Judge Robert H. Heller Jr. to determine the most efficient ways to steer an increasingly heavy criminal docket through the Anne Arundel court system, a job largely handled by Thieme.

"It will be a big loss for us," said Heller.

Praise from colleagues

On most days Thieme supervised the criminal docket, which meant deciding how a long list of criminal cases was scheduled to be heard in the state's fifth-largest courthouse.

Many lawyers used superlatives in describing how Thieme handled the job -- and acknowledged that they often tried to arrange to have their cases argued in his courtroom.

"He certainly was the judge of choice among prosecutors and defense attorneys," said State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, who worked as an assistant to Thieme when the latter was state's attorney from 1970 to 1973.

Born in Baltimore, Thieme is a graduate of Loyola College and the University of Maryland Law School.

He was appointed to the District Court in 1973 and to the Circuit Court four years later.

Oriole Park decision

In 1982, he was appointed administrative judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, which meant working with administrative judges Anne Arundel, Carroll and Howard counties in overseeing courthouse operations.

In 1987, he ruled in favor of a group fighting the decision to locate Oriole Park at Camden Yards at its current site. The decision, reversed by the Court of Appeals, angered Gov. William Donald Schaefer, a stadium backer, and was widely seen as costing Thieme a seat on the Court of Special Appeals under Schaefer.

Circuit trials

Thieme said he hopes to continue working out of chambers in the Anne Arundel Circuit Court. Other appellate judges work in the jurisdictions where they are assigned.

Once he is appointed to Special Appeals, he also will ask Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell to be assigned to Circuit trials in cases in which he has made pretrial rulings.

Unlike a trial judge, an appellate judge leads an almost monastic existence, poring over transcripts of testimony and briefs written by lawyers arguing for reversals of criminal convictions and civil judgments.

'New challenge'

T. Joseph Touhey, a Glen Burnie lawyer and longtime friend, said he tried to talk Thieme out of taking the job because he is not sure it will be good for him.

"I think he's going to miss the give and take that you have in the trial level. Ray Thieme loves that give and take," Touhey said.

Thieme said that he will miss the courtroom exchanges, but after 23 years as a trial judge, it was time for a change.

"I'm going to miss it, sure, I'm going to miss it. But this is a new challenge, and that's why I put in for it," he said.

Pub Date: 11/01/96

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