Vote for the city sitting judges Sun endorsements: Challenger raises questions about quality of justice, but provides no answer.

September 11, 1998

JUSTICE IS BEST served when judges are appointed after scrutiny by commissions representing the legal profession and the public -- a process removed from the politicking of competitive elections. That is why The Sun supports the "sitting judges principle." It remains the best way to keep politics out of the judicial-selection process.

In Maryland, only Circuit Court judges are subjected to the full electoral process. Nine Baltimore judges seek election this year, two to a second 15-year term. Seven others were appointed in the past two years and are campaigning for full terms. They were chosen by the governor from a list provided by a nominating commission.

One lawyer is also running. She challenges the sitting judges, hoping to beat one of them and the system favoring them.

Since all candidates run in both Democratic and Republican primaries, and the Republican primary has such low turnout, its outcome is unpredictable. Thus, a repetition of this contest in November is all too possible.

Each of the sitting city judges -- John Carroll Byrnes, Evelyn Omega Cannon, Marcella A. Holland, Kenneth Lavon Johnson, Margaret Brooke Murdock, Alfred Nance, William D. Quarles, Allen L. Schwait and Thomas Waxter Jr. -- had distinguished careers before appointment. All passed the scrutiny of the selection process. The Sun endorses them for election.

The challenger, Page Croyder, is a veteran assistant state's attorney. She has serious criticisms to make. She says that two or three judges are known in the courthouse to dispense justice below the standard to which all Marylanders are entitled. She provides no concrete details.

If there are grounds to question any of these judges, complaints should be lodged with the Maryland Judicial Disabilities Commission. So far, Ms. Croyder has not done so. Nor has she shared with voters her specific complaints.

We endorse Judges Byrnes, Cannon, Holland, Johnson, Murdock, Nance, Quarles, Schwait and Waxter. They have performed competently on the trial bench and warrant the support of city voters.

Also in the metropolitan area are uncontested primaries for judges in the 3rd Judicial Circuit (Baltimore County) and the 5th Judicial Circuit (Anne Arundel and Howard counties).

Pub Date: 9/11/98

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