Carroll judge's absence is not expected to create backlog in 5th Judicial Circuit Retired judges filling in for Burns while he recuperates from surgery

September 04, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

The recent illness of a veteran Carroll County judge has friends in the legal community expressing wishes for a speedy recovery but not expecting that a backlog will develop in the 5th Judicial Circuit.

Luke K. Burns Jr., 64, is recuperating from coronary surgery, and court officials are uncertain how soon he will be able to return.

Burns has served as an associate judge in Circuit Court since 1979 after two years on the bench for the District Court of Maryland in Carroll County.

"We miss him and we certainly wish him a speedy recovery, but there's no concern for a backup of cases," said Judge Francis M. Arnold, a colleague of Burns.

Carroll's third circuit judge, Raymond E. Beck Sr., the administrative judge for the 5th Circuit, was unavailable yesterday.

"We were well-prepared for Judge Burns' absence," Arnold said. "The administrative office of the courts has taken good care of us, sending retired judges to fill in."

A pair of retired judges, Dennis W. Moylan of Washington County and William M. Cave of Montgomery County, sat on the bench Wednesday and yesterday, respectively, handling Burns' criminal docket.

The same procedure was followed two years ago when Arnold was on extended medical leave for coronary surgery.

"We're still afloat and moving the cases along," Arnold said.

Edward Ulsch, a prominent Westminster attorney, called Burns' absence a "great loss to the legal community, as it would be if any of the Carroll Circuit Court judges were out for any length of time."

Ulsch said the small Carroll bench, consisting of three judges, has kept pace with the county's growing needs. He said the county will need a fourth Circuit Court judge soon to keep pace with civil and criminal cases.

Ulsch said losing Burns for several months hurts, because "he is a true gentleman on the bench."

"Few outside the legal community know that Judge Burns handles just about all the adoptions, and he is great with the families and children," Ulsch said.

After signing adoption papers, Burns leaves the bench to meet the adoptive families, hold the babies or stand beside the children and pose for family photographs, Ulsch said.

Ulsch, who calls himself a good friend of Burns, said the judge loves what he does. He said he hoped that health issues would not force Burns to retire prematurely.

"He loves his job, has a passion for golf and is a great fan of the Orioles," Ulsch said. "He's good at what he does, so we would miss him dearly, if he had to retire."

Pub Date: 9/04/98

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