Miller's son passed over for judgeship

Senate president feared fallout of nomination protest

August 08, 2008|By Gadi Dechter | Gadi Dechter,SUN REPORTER

Gov. Martin O'Malley yesterday announced appointments of 13 judges, including one to the state's highest court - but did not tap the Senate president's son for a seat on the Anne Arundel County District Court.

Thomas V. Miller III's nomination in May for a trial bench vacancy led to the protest resignations of three members of the county's judicial nominating commission. At the time, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Prince George's County Democrat, said he worried that political fallout from the protests would likely hurt the chances for his son, a commissioner on the state parole board, to be appointed.

The younger Miller was initially passed over by the judicial commission in February, but he was then nominated when O'Malley demanded more candidates, leading to accusations of political interference.

O'Malley appointed Mary Ellen Barbera of Montgomery County to the Court of Appeals. Barbera, 56, an associate judge on the state Court of Special Appeals since 2002, will fill a vacancy created when Irma S. Raker retired from the high court earlier this year.

In a statement, the Democratic governor praised Barbera's "impeccable judgment, integrity and compassion."

Before joining the criminal appeals division of the attorney general's office in 1985, the Hampden native was an elementary school teacher in Cherry Hill for nine years. From 1998 to 2002, she was legal counsel to former Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat.

"I think the thing about her that's kind of cool is that Mary Ellen had a broad range of experience that often makes for a better judicial selection," said Sen. Lisa Gladden, a Baltimore Democrat who served on a Legislative Black Caucus committee that endorsed Barbera's nomination.

In addition to 10 trial judges appointed to circuit and district benches in the city and Anne Arundel, Calvert, Cecil and Prince George's counties, O'Malley selected Albert J. Matricciani, Jr. and Kathryn G. Graeff to the Court of Special Appeals, Maryland's intermediate appellate court.

Matricciani was the Baltimore Circuit Court judge who ruled in O'Malley's favor when he, as Baltimore mayor, sued the Public Service Commission in 2006. The ruling, which came as O'Malley was making energy costs a key part of his gubernatorial campaign, led to a special General Assembly session in which lawmakers approved a BGE electric rate relief plan.

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