Glendening appoints four to Baltimore County bench

3 women, 1 male delegate to become Circuit judges

April 26, 2002|By Gerard Shields and Joe Nawrozki | Gerard Shields and Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening appointed yesterday three women and a male state delegate to the Baltimore County Circuit Court bench.

The four -- District Judge Vicki Ballou-Watts, Susan M. Souder, Ruth A. Jakubowski and state Del. Michael J. Finifter -- will fill vacancies created by the resignation of Judge James T. Smith and the retirements of Judges Edward A. DeWaters Jr., Robert E. Cahill Sr. and J. William Hinkel.

The governor continued his push to make the county bench more diverse by selecting three women, including one who is African-American. Two years ago, Glendening described the county Circuit Court as "an old boys' network."

Yesterday, Glendening called the new judges devoted citizens.

"These well respected appointees have all demonstrated their devotion to the community and their excellence in legal matters," the governor said in a prepared statement.

Finifter, an Owings Mills Democrat, has served in the House of Delegates since 1994. An associate with the law firm of Scaldara and Potler in Baltimore, he is also a certified public accountant. Since 1994, he has served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

His appointment will further diminish the number of veteran lawmakers in the county legislative delegation in Annapolis. Several senators and delegates have said they will not seek re-election this year.

Finifter could not be reached for comment.

Ballou-Watts was appointed to the Baltimore County District Court by Glendening in 1999. Before that, she was a lawyer in private practice for 12 years.

She has lectured before the Maryland Bar Association, the District Court Judicial Education Center and Maryland Trial Lawyers Association.

G.I. Johnson, president of the Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, praised her appointment yesterday.

"On the District Court, Judge Ballou-Watts has established a reputation within the community as a fair, compassionate and outstanding judge," Johnson said. "As a judge on the Circuit Court, she will solidify her reputation as a tremendous jurist."

Ballou-Watts of Reisterstown graduated from the University of North Carolina law school in 1983. She could not be reached for comment.

Souder has a practice in Catonsville, focusing on civil litigation. Before that, she was a partner in two city law firms.

Souder learned of her appointment yesterday in a phone call from Glendening as she returned home after winning a $500,000 civil claim for a client.

Souder's said her chief goal is to be open-minded.

"I have a lot to learn," Souder said. "But I want to be fair and open-minded, somebody who would listen to an argument they haven't heard before."

Jakubowski, of Baltimore, is a managing partner in the law firm of Dugan, Jakubowski, Babij & Spector in Timonium. The majority of her practice has been civil litigation.

Jakubowski was excited about her appointment.

"I feel thrilled, ecstatic and honored," she said. "To me, it's the greatest public service an attorney can do."

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