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29 contend for new seats on appellate bench

Twenty-nine judges and attorneys are vying for two newly created seats on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

Interest in the positions was fueled by the fact that it is the first expansion of the intermediate appellate court in 36 years; also, because the seats are at-large, people from throughout the state could apply.

The General Assembly created the two at-large seats this year at the urging of Court of Special Appeals Chief Judge Peter B. Krauser, who said increasing the court’s complement of judges from 13 to 15 was necessary to ease the burden on his overworked bench.

While the number of judges had remained unchanged since 1977, the number of cases heard by each judge climbed from 115 cases to 157 per year, Krauser told legislators last winter.

Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the law authorizing the additional seats in April. Applications were due by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission will review the applications and submit the names of candidates it deems qualified to the governor on Oct. 3. O’Malley is expected to choose two names from that list for appointment to the appellate court.

Six of the 29 applicants have already been vetted by the commission: Andrew H. Baida, a partner at Rosenberg Martin Greenberg LLP in Baltimore; Washington County Circuit Court Judge Donald E. Beachley; Daniel A. Friedman, counsel to the general assembly; Karen L. Federman Henry, of the Montgomery County attorney’s office; Denise O. Shaffer, executive administrative law judge and deputy director of quality assurance at the Office of Administrative Hearings; and Martin E. Wolf, a partner at Gordon & Wolf Chtd. in Towson.

The commission had sent their names to O’Malley to fill other Court of Special Appeals vacancies within the past two years. Under judicial nominating rules, their names remain on the governor’s desk for two years as candidates for the next available vacancy on the same court.

The 23 new applicants are:

* Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Krystal Quinn Alves;

* Kevin F. Arthur, of Kramon & Graham P.A. in Baltimore;

* Bruce M. Bender, of Axelson, Williamowsky, Bender & Fishman P.C. in Rockville;

* Assistant Maryland Attorney General Cathleen C. Brockmeyer;

* Russell P. Butler, executive director of the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center;

* Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Audrey J.S. Carrion;

* Robert H.B. Cawood, of Cawood & Cawood LLC in Annapolis;

* Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Toni E. Clarke;

* Harriet E. Cooperman, of Saul Ewing LLP in Baltimore;

* Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Melanie S. Geter;

* Andrea M. Leahy-Fucheck, of Leahy & DeSmet LLC in Calverton;

* Thomas E. Lynch III, of Miles & Stockbridge P.C. in Frederick;

* James K. MacAlister, of Saiontz & Kirk P.A. in Baltimore;

* J. Bradford McCullough, of Lerch, Early & Brewer Chtd. in Bethesda;

* Maryland District Court Judge Mark T. O’Brien, of Prince George’s County;

* Pamela C. Ortiz, executive director of the Maryland Access to Justice Commission;

* Norman E. Parker Jr., of Ballard Spahr LLP in Baltimore;

* John M. Seeberger, a Baltimore solo practitioner;

* Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Cathy H. Serrette;

* H. Mark Stichel, of Gohn, Hankey & Stichel LLP in Baltimore;

* Rebecca N. Strandberg, a Silver Spring solo practitioner;

* George G. Tankard III, of counsel at Waters, Kraus & Paul LLP in Baltimore;

* Jack C. Tranter, of Gallagher, Evelius & Jones LLP in Baltimore.

The two at-large seats are in addition to the vacancy created last month when O’Malley elevated Court of Special Appeals Judge Shirley M. Watts to the Court of Appeals, the state’s top court. The nominating commission has not yet advertised for a successor to Watts, who held a Baltimore city seat on the intermediate court.