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Judge Eyler to step down a little early

Court of Special Appeals Judge James R. Eyler will step down May 1, about 2½ months before the Maryland Constitution would compel his retirement at age 70.

“My intention has been to go into private mediation,” Eyler said last week in explaining his decision to retire early from the bench. “The sooner that occurs, the better. That is why I’m not waiting until July 13.”

Eyler, who has served on the intermediate appellate court since Jan. 9, 1996, said he would remain available after May 1 to hear cases by special assignment.

Eyler also hopes the early notice will give Gov. Martin O’Malley and the Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission, which screens applicants to the bench, sufficient time to find a successor.

That person would have to be a resident of either Harford or Baltimore counties, as Eyler represents the 2nd Appellate Circuit, which serves those jurisdictions.

Two applicants for last year’s at-large seat on the court, Andrew H. Baida and Daniel A. Friedman, would meet that requirement.

Baida, a partner with Rosenberg|Martin|Greenberg LLP in Baltimore, said Friday he would be interested in succeeding Eyler. Baida will automatically be under consideration since he was on the list the nominating commission sent to the governor for the at-large seat, which was created when Judge Ellen L. Hollander was appointed to the U.S. District Court. O’Malley chose Judge Stuart R. Berger to succeed Hollander in December.

Friedman would have to reapply because he did not make the nominating commission’s list last year. He said Friday he had not yet decided whether to seek the new post.

Eyler “just submitted his resignation,” said Friedman, general counsel to the General Assembly. “Now is the time to think of his exemplary service, not his replacement.”

Court of Special Appeals Chief Judge Peter B. Krauser called Eyler “one of the pillars” of the appellate court.

“He will be sorely missed,” Krauser said. “He is an outstanding judge and a very fine gentleman. Hopefully, he will continue to be available to our court on a recall basis.”

Eyler said he had briefly considered stepping down in December. However, he chose not to because he believed a departure then would have been unfair to his current law clerks who came on in August and expected to serve more than just four months for a sitting judge.

A 1967 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law, Eyler served for a year as law clerk to then-Court of Appeals Judge William R. Horney before joining the law firm Miles & Stockbridge PC in 1968. He was chairman of the firm when then-Gov. Parris R. Glendening appointed him to the bench.

Eyler is married to fellow Court of Special Appeals Judge Deborah S. Eyler, 59.

“From a marital standpoint, it makes no difference,” she said of her husband’s impending retirement. “It’s a huge loss for the court.”