Coming Nov. 2, a Maryland first

Orphans Court follow: Candidate could win, lose on same day

October 10, 2010|By Dan Rodricks

Addendum to Thursday's column: If Maryland voters approve Question 3 on the Nov. 2 ballot, then Ramona Moore Baker, a candidate for Baltimore Orphans Court judge, can't take office — even if she wins election the same day.

So says an assistant attorney general, who was asked for an opinion about what appears to be a Maryland first: the possibility of a candidate winning elected office while simultaneously losing her eligibility for it.

Question 3 proposes an amendment to the Maryland Constitution that all three judges of the Baltimore Orphans Court be required to be "lawyers in good standing." Never in the 233-year history of the Orphans Court has there been such a requirement, and that goes for every probate in the state.

But Question 3 applies only to Baltimore, where the dockets are busy and where legislative and legal leaders believe the standard for expertise in wills and estates should be raised.

So Maryland voters are being asked the question: Should the city's Orphans Court judges be lawyers? If a majority answers yes, then Ramona Moore Baker, a candidate without a law degree, will not be allowed to become a judge even if she wins the general election. (And she will win because she's only one of three candidates for three Orphans Court judgeships.)

"If the qualifications are changed by the passage of the amendment, and [an] individual no longer possesses all of the qualifications set out in the amendment, then he or she may not serve," wrote David K. Hayes, an assistant attorney general. Mr. Hayes found no Maryland precedent for this situation but used court decisions from three other states to form his opinion.

Ms. Baker said she was "very familiar with the process and very familiar with what is at stake" but would continue to campaign for office and "trust in the Lord with all of my heart."

The Lord is important, without doubt. But a lawyer might be helpful, too.

Maryland Public Television's MotorWeek has entered in its 30th season of assessing new cars, trucks, vans and SUVs. To note the milestone, John Davis, the show's creator and host, listed and described the 10 most unforgettable rides — "the sexy and the significant" — out of an estimated 5,000 new cars that he and colleagues reviewed over three decades.

1. 2004 Ferrari Enzo: "Absolutely the easiest-to-drive high-performance car we've ever tested."

2. 2009 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione: "The closest thing to automotive art we have ever driven."

3. 2005 Porsche Carrera GT: "The ultimate in speed, technology and in-your-face Porsche style."

4. 1990 Lamborghini Diablo: "Outrageous to look at, to drive, and to own."

5. 1992 Dodge Viper RT/10: "Restored Chrysler's performance pedigree on a global scale."

6. 2009 Corvette ZR1: "Exotic car performance priced right."

7. 1982 Honda Accord: "The first Accord built in the U.S., it raised Americans' expectations about what they could expect from a family car — roominess, comfort and standard premium features."

8. 1984 Jeep Cherokee XJ: "The first four-door compact sport utility vehicle. Equally at home on and off-road, the XJ revolutionized how families drove, making a bigger impact than even the minivan."

9. 1986 Ford Taurus: "Proved American automakers could build a world-class family sedan. It was the best-selling car in America from 1992 to 1995, an accomplishment no other domestic automaker has achieved since."

10. 1989 Lexus LS: "The first car from Asia to seriously challenge the European luxury sedans."

A Baltimore-area business owner with an open mind — open to the possibility of hiring an ex-offender — says: "I am looking for a truck driver to drive my trucks and do warehouse work. I would be glad to consider anyone you may know of with a nonviolent past." You must also have a Class B commercial driver's license. If that's you and you need the work, call me at 410-332-6166 and I'll hook you up.

As for others looking for jobs — I still have a list of companies that have been open to hiring men and women with criminal records. Keep in mind that some of them might have gone out of business during the recession, and some might have changed their hiring practices. When you call me, please leave your mailing address and spell your name. I apologize to those still waiting for the list. Thanks for your patience.

Dan Rodricks' column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. He is the host of Midday on WYPR, 88.1 FM. His e-mail is dan.rodricks@baltsun.com.

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