Diversity reigns in race for judgeship

Orphans' Court battle crowded with 6 hopefuls

Three seats, two incumbents

Candidates include nurse, fund-raiser, lawyers, artist

Anne Arundel

October 25, 2002|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Two incumbents are among the six candidates of diverse backgrounds who are vying for the three judicial seats on the Anne Arundel County's little-known Orphans' Court.

Three part-time judges, who handle routine estate matters and who decide disputed wills, held 340 hearings from July 2000 to June 2001, down from a five-year high of 422 in the same period from July 1997 to June 1998. Democrats and Republicans each are fielding a slate of three candidates.

On the Democratic ticket is Annapolis resident Joan Duckett, 38, daughter-in-law of retiring Orphans' Court Judge Judy Duckett and former Circuit Judge Warren B. Duckett.

"I think it's a nice way to serve justice- you serve one case at a time, and you see results," said Joan Duckett, the volunteer fund-raiser for Anne Arundel Medical Center and a former political aide.

She is joined on the ticket by registered nurse and community college instructor Jacqueline Boone Allsup, 54, of Glen Burnie, long active in civic roles and Democratic politics.

"I am committed to public service," Allsup said.

The third Democratic hopeful, lawyer Paul R. Shelby, 66, of Edgewater, served on the Prince George's County school board twice and returned to Anne Arundel County two years ago.

"I've practiced probate law, which is the subject of the Orphans' Court, for 25 years. I know the work," he said.

On the GOP ticket is the current chief judge, artist Gail J. Schaffer, 58, of Edgewater, who is seeking a third term and hoping to capitalize on her experience.

"I campaign on service. We provide a service to people that come in and have difficulty settling estates," she said.

The other incumbent is real estate agent Nancy C. Phelps, 54, seeking a second term. She recently moved to Gambrills and is a longtime Linthicum civic and political volunteer.

"I feel this is a great way to help people," she said.

Republican Gordon H. Witherspoon, 74, of Annapolis is a former administrative law judge seeking a new challenge.

"I want to be on the Orphans' Court because I want to get active again," the lawyer said.

The salaries will be $19,500 for the chief judge and $19,000 for the other two.

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