Hantman fulfills longtime goal of judgeship

Veteran prosecutor is sworn in as fifth judge of Howard's District Court

January 03, 2003|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

Veteran prosecutor Sue-Ellen Hantman was sworn in as Howard County's fifth District Court judge yesterday during a ceremony filled with tributes to a woman whom speakers hailed as a worker bee who has long been committed to community building - and who never gave up on her dream of becoming a judge.

Thirteen years after she first applied for a District Court judgeship, Hantman, 57, was tapped last month - as one of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's last three judicial appointees - to fill the vacancy created by the death of Judge C. James "Kit" Sfekas in June.

"I have to tell you. Perseverance pays. Dreams do come true," she told a crowd of about 200 friends, family and colleagues who gathered in the George Howard Building yesterday afternoon.

More than a half-dozen speakers - including Hantman's son, David, a lawyer on Capitol Hill - spoke of a woman they said is known for her hard work, her dedication to understanding her community and her drive to become, first, an elected official and, later, a judge.

"She's continued for years and years now to consistently contribute all she has to offer to all the ideals she holds dearly," said state Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, a Columbia Democrat who bested Hantman in a primary race for a state delegate seat in 1982. "She deserves this."

Speakers also noted the significance of yesterday's swearing-in: Hantman's arrival on the Howard District Court bench creates a judicial first in Maryland - more women than men on a state bench with more than one judge. "Today, for the first time in the history of this state ... she'll cause the scales to tip in the other direction," said Judge JoAnn Ellinghaus-Jones, the administrative judge for District 10, which includes Howard and Carroll counties.

The speakers also focused on what they said has been one of Hantman's great strengths as a prosecutor. She understands, they said, the effect crime has on a community and the problems defendants face as they try to turn their lives around.

Hantman, a Howard resident for more than 20 years and the current president of the local bar association, has been a Howard prosecutor for most of her legal career in Maryland, spending five years in private practice in Columbia during the early 1990s. Most recently, she served as the prosecutor assigned to Columbia's two communities in the state's HotSpots program.

"She has always treated people with dignity and respect," said District Public Defender Carol A. Hanson. " ... She will be fair and just, and the community will be well-served."

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