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Best Week, Worst Week: Hotten gets seat on Court of Appeals; ‘Money Guy’ fights for license

Best Week, Worst Week heads to court as a Court of Appeals judge is named and the “Money Guy” tries to keep Maryland insurance regulators from taking his license.

On Monday, legal affairs writer Steve Lash reported that Michele D. Hotten, 61, was appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan to fill a spot on the Court of Appeals, Maryland’s top court.

Hotten will now have served on every level of the Maryland court system, having spent time 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.

Hotten’s elevation means that five of the high court’s seven judges will be women, the first time females 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.

Meanwhile, investment adviser Philippe Rousseaux heads to Montgomery County Circuit Court on Tuesday, days after Maryland insurance regulators announced they want to revoke his license and slap him with a $62,400 bill for administrative penalties for improper business practices.

Business writer Dan Leaderman reported that the Maryland Insurance Administration in a preliminary order issued Wednesday accused Rousseaux and his company, Everest Wealth Management Inc., of falsifying information on forms, using misleading language in infomercials and failing to report to the administration that the state of Delaware took an administrative action against another of Rousseaux’s companies, Everest Investment Advisors Inc., resulting in a $12,500 fine.

Everest’s attorney, Alex J. Brown, said it would be fighting the order in court on Tuesday.

The order also accuses Rousseaux and Everest of pre-signing annuity applications on which his signature needed to be dated, using “psychological warfare” tactics to manipulate clients into trusting him, and using a special VIP program to encourage existing clients to solicit new business for Everest even though those clients were not licensed insurance producers.

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced in June that he wanted to shut down Rousseaux’s two Towson-based companies for misuse of a Medallion stamp — used to verify a client’s signature — and falsely claiming to investors that they would not be charged brokerage and investment fees for certain product, among other allegations.

Rousseaux issued a statement at the time calling the allegations “spurious” and unsupported by the facts, and later sued the Securities Division of Frosh’s office to stop a show-cause order issued by the division.