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Hogan taps Getty for Court of Appeals

Governor also picks 2 for Court of Special Appeals vacancies

Bryan P. Sears//and Steve Lash//June 1, 2016

Hogan taps Getty for Court of Appeals

Governor also picks 2 for Court of Special Appeals vacancies

By Bryan P. Sears

//and Steve Lash

//June 1, 2016

Gov. Larry Hogan’s top legislative lobbyist will be moving to an office about a mile down the street from the State House after being named to the state’s highest court.

Joseph M. Getty, who left the state Senate in 2015 to become Hogan’s chief legislative officer, was named Wednesday to the Court of Appeals. He replaces Judge Lynne A. Battaglia, who retired in April after reaching the mandatory judicial retirement age of 70.

“It’s quite an honor to be appointed by Governor Hogan,” Getty said late Wednesday afternoon. “It is very humbling.”

Getty will become judge for the 3rd Appellate Judicial Circuit, which covers Western Maryland.

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Joseph M. Getty

Getty, 64, received his law degree from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in 1996, the same year he was admitted to the Maryland bar. Getty has spent much of his legal career operating a solo practice in Manchester.

Like Battaglia, his predecessor, Getty will come to the Court of Appeals with no judicial experience. Current Court of Appeals Judge Robert N. McDonald also had no judicial experience when he was elevated to the bench in 2012 from the Office of the Attorney General.

That Hogan went outside the judicial branch to fill a top-court vacancy might be unusual in Maryland but is common across the country, according to Steven M. Klepper, who runs the Maryland Appellate Blog.

“If we were in any state other than Maryland, I don’t think anyone would bat an eye about this,” said Klepper, a principal at Kramon & Graham P.A. in Baltimore.

Prior to joining the Hogan administration, Getty served eight years in the House of Delegates, from 1995 to 2003, before leaving to serve as policy and legislative director to then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Getty returned to the legislature, this time to the Senate, in 2011 and served as the minority whip in 2013 and 2014. He won re-election in 2014 but resigned from the Senate a few months later to join the governor’s staff.

Getty said his time in the legislative and executive branches “offers me a great foundation for my new role on the Court of Appeals.”

Not unprecedented

Getty’s move from the governor’s office to the top court also is not without precedent: Gov. Marvin Mandel appointed his chief legislative officer, John C. Eldridge, to the Court of Appeals in 1974.

Eldridge had worked as a trial attorney and assistant chief at the U.S. Department of Justice before joining the Mandel administration in 1969. He had no judicial experience before joining the Court of Appeals, where he sat until he turned 70 in 2003.

More recently, Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2013 appointed his chief legislative officer, Stacy A. Mayer, to the District Court of Maryland in Baltimore County.

“It is good for a court to have someone with knowledge for how policy works,” said Klepper, the appellate lawyer.

Getty said a date has not been set for his investiture. Once seated, Getty must still be confirmed by the Senate in order to remain there. That hearing will occur when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

Getty was one of five candidates submitted to Hogan in April by the Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission, along with Court of Special Appeals Judge Kathryn Grill Graeff; Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley; and attorneys Andrew D. Levy of Brown Goldstein Levy LLP in Baltimore and Thomas E. Lynch III of Miles & Stockbridge PC in Frederick.

Hogan was not legally bound to select Battaglia’s successor from the commission’s list. However, the gubernatorial practice of the last four decades has been to do so.

“Joe is a devoted public servant who has spent his entire career and a good portion of his life in service to his community and to our state,” Hogan said in a statement announcing the appointment. “His unquestionable integrity, deep legal expertise, and devotion to the people of Maryland make him an excellent fit for the state’s highest court. I have complete confidence that he will continue to be a strong advocate for the law and our citizens while serving on the Maryland Court of Appeals.”

While Beachley was not appointed to the state’s highest court, he was elevated by Hogan to the Court of Special Appeals to fill an at-large seat vacated by the retirement of Judge Robert A. Zarnoch.

Hogan also elevated Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Melanie M. Shaw Geter to the Court of Special Appeals to fill the vacancy left by Judge Michele D. Hotten, who was named to the Court of Appeals last year.

Daily Record Legal Editor Danny Jacobs contributed to this story.


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