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Prosecutor to trade sword for scales as governor's pick for top court post (81557)

Lawyers arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court often get the two female justices confused. Soon they will have to try not to make the same mistake in Maryland’s top court.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday appointed U.S. Attorney Lynne A. Battaglia to the Court of Appeals, where she will join one other woman on the seven-member bench.

“The governor made an excellent choice in appointing Lynne Battaglia to succeed Judge [Lawrence F.] Rodowsky,” said Judge Irma S. Raker, the lone woman on the court since her groundbreaking appointment seven years ago. “The appointment brings the Maryland Court of Appeals one step closer to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, where a majority of the justices are women.”

In making the appointment, Glendening praised Battaglia’s own groundbreaking role among Maryland lawyers.

“As the first woman to serve as the State’s top federal prosecutor, she has opened new doors of opportunity for women and has been an effective advocate in promoting gender equality through community and professional organizations,” he said in a statement announcing the appointment.

Battaglia has served as U.S. attorney for Maryland since her appointment by President Clinton in 1993. Before that, she served as chief of the state attorney general’s criminal investigations division and was chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., for two years.

“I am very pleased with the governor’s choice,” Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell said in a statement welcoming Battaglia to the court. “Ms. Battaglia’s contributions to the state of Maryland have been exemplary, and her credentials are outstanding. She has proven herself to be much more than a distinguished attorney and legal scholar.”Disarm dispute

Battaglia’s work as U.S. attorney has received widespread praise, but she has not been without critics. An ongoing dispute between her and U.S. Rep. Robert L. Erlich Jr., R-Md., over federal gun prosecutions has been widely publicized.

Erlich, who declined through a spokesman to comment for this article, has disagreed with Battaglia’s policy of focusing on the worst gun offenders rather than subjecting all eligible gun offenses to federal prosecution, as is done in Virginia.

Glendening touted Battaglia’s dedication to the “pursuit of justice.”

“She is driven by her genuine belief that the law can make a real difference in the lives of people,” he said.

Battaglia, a Columbia resident, received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from American University and graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1974. Before joining the state attorney general’s office, she was a senior trial attorney in the special litigation office of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she still serves as a member of Attorney General Janet Reno’s advisory committee.