Howard County Circuit Judge Diane O. Leasure, a former middle school teacher in New Jersey who became one of the most respected arbiters in Maryland, said Tuesday that she plans to retire from the bench when her 15-year term ends in November.
Leasure, 58, will become a senior judicial fellow and lecturer at the University of Maryland law school, where she has been an adjunct professor for the past four years. She also hopes for Court of Appeals approval to serve as a recall judge around the state, and to become involved in private mediation and arbitration.
"I'm retiring from being an active judge, but certainly not retiring," Leasure said in an interview. "I'll be working pretty much full time is my plan."
Initially appointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening as an associate circuit judge in November 1995, Leasure was elected to the position in a close race the following year. She was appointed Howard County's administrative circuit judge in 2002.
A native of Cumberland, Leasure had until recently served as head of the state's conference of Circuit Court judges.
With the primary scheduled for March 2012, Leasure decided to retire rather than go through the election process, unsure whether she was fully committed.
"I figured that I'm going to be not quite 60, and that's usually when people start thinking about retirement," Leasure said. "I just thought I'm going to run or I'm not going to run. I didn't think it would be appropriate or fair to maybe go through the primary election and then decide to leave right before the general election."
A successor for Leasure will be appointed later this year.