Vote for sitting judges

Sun endorsements: Judges in Baltimore and Harford counties deserve to retain their seats.

March 03, 2000

COMPETITIVE elections may be the best method for selecting presidents, senators, congressmen, governors, mayors and legislators, but they leave a lot to be desired when selecting circuit court judges.

Judges on Maryland's two appellate courts appear on the ballot at the end of their terms, but no one can challenge them. Voters have the choice of retaining them for another 10-year term or removing from the bench. The public is better served by that system.

The reality is that few voters are knowledgeable enough to determine the legal competence and judicial temperament of the candidates. A contested election doesn't help illuminate these qualities. Unlike other politicians, judicial candidates cannot make promises about their actions once they are on the bench.

The law and the facts of the cases before them circumscribe judges' actions. About the only promise they should make is that they will be impartial. As a result, judicial elections are waged on non-relevant issues.

Nevertheless, when voters in Baltimore and Harford counties go to the polls on March 7, they will face a choice in two Circuit Court races. We recommend they cast their votes for the sitting judges -- Kathleen G. Cox and Alexander Wright Jr., in Baltimore County and Emory A. Plitt Jr. in Harford.

The only argument against Judges Cox and Wright in Baltimore County is that Gov. Parris N. Glendening appointed them to diversify the county bench in hopes of reaping political benefits.

Adding another woman and the first African-American to Baltimore County's Circuit Court is long overdue. The courthouse has been a bastion of white males for too many years. Indeed, Judge Cox is a woman and Judge Wright is African American, but they are also outstanding professionals and deserving of their appointments. In Harford County, Judge Plitt has extensive judicial experience, having serving as a District Court judge for six years until his appointment to the Circuit Court bench. Moreover, he spent more than two decades as an assistant attorney general advising the state departments of correction and public safety and also served as Harford's county attorney.

The Sun strongly recommends Judges Kathleen G. Cox and Alexander Wright Jr., in Baltimore County. Harford County voters should cast their ballots for Emory A. Plitt Jr.

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