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Court of Special Appeals Judge Michele D. Hotten (File photo)

Hotten appointed to Md. Court of Appeals

Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday named Michele D. Hotten to Maryland’s top court, the Court of Appeals.

Hotten, 61, has served on the Court of Special Appeals since August 2010. She had served on the Prince George’s County Circuit Court for 15 years prior to her appointment by then-Gov. Martin O’Malley to the intermediate appellate court.

Hotten, a 1979 Howard University School of Law Graduate, also has served as a Maryland District Court judge, deputy people’s zoning counsel in Prince George’s County and as a hearing examiner at the county’s board of education.

The Court of Appeals’ newest member will fill a seat left vacant in June by the mandatory retirement of Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr.

“I am deeply humbled by the governor’s appointment and the opportunity to serve the citizens of Maryland in this new role,” Hotten said in a statement.

Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera called Hotten “a jurist of the highest caliber.”

“I am confident that Judge Hotten will continue to serve the people of Maryland with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice, as she has done since she was appointed to the District Court bench in 1994,” Barbera added in a statement. “Judge Hotten will now be one of very few individuals who has had the honor and privilege of serving as a judge at every level of the Maryland court system.”

Hotten could not be reached for comment Tuesday, said Judiciary spokeswoman Angelita Plemmer Williams.

Hotten’s elevation means that five of the high court’s seven judges will be women, the first time women have comprised a supermajority on the Court of Appeals. As of September, Washington was the only state whose supreme court consisted of a supermajority of female judges, according to data compiled by the National Center for State Courts.

Hotten’s elevation also increases the number of blacks on the court to three, the most in Maryland history.

Hotten, who may take her seat on the high court in the coming days, must be confirmed by the state Senate in order to remain on the high court. The General Assembly will convene for its 2016 session in January.

Sen. Jamin B. “Jamie” Raskin, D-Montgomery and chair of the Senate Executive Nominations Committee, said that Tuesday “we are delighted to receive the governor’s nomination and look forward to reviewing the judge’s credentials, qualifications and service.”

In selecting Hotten, Hogan passed over two other candidates whose names were submitted to him in late August by the 17-member Judicial Appellate Nominating Commission: Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Sean D. Wallace and attorney Michael J. Winkelman, a partner at McCarthy & Winkelman LLP in Lanham.

Hotten and Wallace were the only two applicants for the Court of Appeals seat by the initial July deadline, which required the positioned to be re-advertised based on an executive order. Winkelman and two others then applied by a mid-August deadline.

Circuit court judge named

Harrell reached the Maryland Constitution’s mandatory judicial retirement age of 70 on June 27. However, he will remain on the court via special assignment by Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera until Hotten is seated.

Under the Constitution, Harrell’s successor was required to be an attorney or judge residing in Prince George’s County and be at least 30 years old. Harrell represented the 4th Appellate Judicial Circuit, which covers Prince George’s County.

Hogan also appointed attorney Kevin J. Mahoney to the Harford County Circuit Court, filling a seat left vacant by the retirement of Judge Stephen M. Waldron.

Mahoney, a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law, was a partner at Snee, Mahoney, Lutche & Helmlinger P.A. in Bel Air.

Circuit court appointments are not subject to Senate confirmation.

“After conducting a thorough vetting process, I am confident in Judge Hotten and Mr. Mahoney’s ability to be strong advocates for the law and our citizens in their respective courts,” Hogan said in a statement. “Their extensive legal experience in our state has well-prepared them and I offer my sincere congratulations.”

Hotten and Mahoney marked the first judicial appointments for Hogan, who took office in January.