13 seek Circuit Court position

County district judges not among applicants

May 26, 1999|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The list of applicants for a Carroll Circuit Court vacancy was noted yesterday for its number -- 13 -- and for the absence of the county's two District Court judges, who normally would be considered to have a head start.

The position opened with the mandatory retirement of Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold, who turns 70 next month and has served on the court since 1990, after 10 years in the District Court.

The last open judgeship in 1995 for the District Court drew a field of 21 county lawyers -- almost every one of them well known through a local practice. Marc G. Rasinsky was chosen to serve with District Judge JoAnn Ellinghaus-Jones, who had been chosen for the District Court in 1991.

Neither was interested in moving up now, the two judges said when Arnold stepped down this month because of the mandatory retirement age.

The final list of 13 candidates released yesterday by the Administration Office of the Courts includes several highly re- garded former candidates.

Both the current Maryland State Bar Association president, Charles Michael Preston, and the Carroll County Bar Association president, Frank D. Coleman, are on the list.

Other familiar names are attorneys Michael M. Galloway, Michael S. Levin, J. Michael Earp, Thomas F. Stansfield, former Carroll and Howard County prosecutor Kathi L. Hill, and Judson K. Larrimore, a senior public defender.

Preston and Galloway were ranked with Rasinsky among the top three candidates by the last nominating commission.

Newcomers to the list this time are:

Damian L. Halstad, a two-term Westminster councilman recently elevated to president of the Common Council and seen as politically connected.

Fred S. Hecker, a local attorney with a family-law practice, who has twice been praised by Carroll's administrative judge, Raymond E. Beck Sr., for settling the most cases in a 2-year-old pretrial conference program.

A few names were unknown to local lawyers because they practice primarily out of the county:

Timothy B. Mullen, 44, a 17-year resident of Hampstead, who is staff counsel for GEICO Insurance Co. in Baltimore.

Donald E. Hoffman, 49, president of Finksburg Planning Area Council, who is an assistant Maryland attorney general and has practiced throughout the state and in federal courts representing Maryland State Police for the past four years.

Susan Bernadette Boyce, 42, a Winfield resident since 1990. Her office is in Rockville because her specialty in medicine is in more demand there, she said, although she has defended malpractice cases in Carroll.

The judge's position, which pays more than $107,000 annually, requires that the applicant be 35 years or older, a lawyer, a resident of Maryland for five years and of the county for six months, said Michael V. O'Malley, assistant state court administrator.

Before the selection process begins, he said, the county must form a new nominating commission. Four members will be elected by the Carroll County Bar Association, while the governor chooses two lawyers, six lay members, and a chairman who need not be a lawyer.

"That should all come together by early or mid-June," O'Malley said.

Candidate interviews should be completed by July. The nominating commission must send the governor at least three names and no more than seven.

No time limit is imposed for filling the vacancy, he said, and after being named to the court, the new judge would have to run for office in the next general election.

Pub Date: 5/26/99

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