Letters To The Editor


July 13, 2006

Trust the people to elect our judges

The Sun's whining over judicial elections is based on the faulty premise that voters are incapable of casting an informed ballot ("Courting votes," editorial, July 6).

And in fact, the election process has been helpful, not harmful, to African-American judicial candidates.

For example, former Judges Joseph C. Howard, William H. Murphy Jr. and Kenneth L. Johnson were all popularly elected to the Circuit Court of Baltimore City. And this year, three judicial challengers in Baltimore City and Baltimore County are African-American.

In recent elections, four incumbent judges who are African-American have been elected by the voters in Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Baltimore counties.

One of these sitting judges, my colleague Baltimore County Circuit Judge Vicki Ballou-Watts, led a primary field of six contenders vying for four positions in total votes.

In that same election another colleague, Baltimore County Circuit Judge John G. Turnbull II was listed in the sixth position, but ran first in the Republican primary despite being a lifelong Democrat.

Since the current nonpartisan system in which judicial candidates can run in the primaries of both parties was adopted in 1941, 18 Circuit Court judges have been popularly elected without first being appointed by a governor.

Besides myself, Lenore R. Gelfman, Paul F. Harris Jr., Paul G. Goetzke and Patrick Cavanaugh now serve on Maryland Circuit Courts because of public support at the polls.

Since judicial elections began in the 1850s, Maryland citizens, not the elitists, have had the final say on whether an incumbent gubernatorial appointee or a challenger shall be elected to the Circuit Court.

And in fairness to candidate Arthur M. Frank, The Sun's readers should have been informed that he was found qualified by the judicial nominating commission to serve as a Circuit Court judge.

Robert N. Dugan


The writer is a judge for the Circuit Court of Baltimore County.

Campaign has been positive and moral

Isn't it unethical and unfair for The Sun to publish a criticism of a lawyer who is suing the paper without revealing that it has a conflict of interest ("Courting votes," editorial, July 6)?

I am one of the lawyers representing Parren J. Mitchell in his claims against The Sun for trespass and unauthorized entry into his nursing home room.

I announced my intention to seek election to the Baltimore County Circuit Court in 2004.

My campaign has been positive - sponsoring youth baseball teams, providing free seminars to seniors and promoting blood drives for the Red Cross.

My campaign has been above all moral reproach and completely legal.

Despite the recent opinion of the hastily formed, undemocratic Maryland Judicial Campaign Conduct Committee (MJCCC), I will continue campaigning to become the "people's choice for judge."

The new MJCCC, which is changing the rules just prior to the election, is comprised mostly of lawyers who seek to eliminate judicial elections, a position also urged by The Sun.

I, on the other hand, have greater confidence in the electorate.

Arthur Frank


Real estate greed swallows up the city

I wholeheartedly agree with Jean Marbella's column "Hot market burns those who most need to buy" (July 11).

I am sure the out-of-sight pricing of houses in Baltimore, the regentrification of some of Baltimore's old neighborhoods and that which comes with regentrification - the greed and inconsiderateness of the newcomers to longtime residents - were not part of the vision of James W. Rouse, the developer who meant only to rebuild a city that was slowly dying.

It's disgraceful that greed with another face is swallowing up our city.

JoAnne Zarling


Act of Toleration wasn't very tolerant

As a scholar, state archivist Edward C. Papenfuse should know he is fooling us when he suggests that Maryland's 1649 Act of Toleration was an inspiration for the First Amendment ("200 years of Catholic tradition commemorated," July 8).

One of the provisions of the Act of "Toleration" (Oy! I gag when I say the word) was that anyone apprehended within the "Province" who did not believe in Jesus Christ as the "sonne of God" and "our Saviour" would be executed and all his goods confiscated.

Some "toleration."

Leonard J. Kerpelman


Nuclear power is safe and efficient

The Sun's editorial "Nuclear folly" (July 3) has a skewed point of view.

For instance, to oppose the proposed uranium enrichment plant because it would produce corrosive and toxic wastes would seem to imply that one should oppose many other energy technologies, including many solar energy technologies.

The dirty secret of solar cells, for example, is that they produce large amounts of corrosive and hazardous waste in the purification of the silicon, and advanced cells often include dangerous heavy metals.

The radioactive tailings from uranium enrichment are only very mildly radioactive, and even less radioactive than the original ore removed from the ground.

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