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Getty sought lawyers’ views on recusal in election-law case

Court of Appeals Judge Joseph M. Getty, the newest member of the Court of Appeals, during his investiture in June in Annapolis. Getty has been a lobbyist and legislative policy advisors for the last two Republican governors and a state legislator but says he has no jitters starting his new role. ‘I think my background has prepared me for the types of things that will come before the court,’ he says. ‘I feel very confident.’ (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Court of Appeals Judge Joseph M. Getty. (The Daily Record)

It’s not often that a high-court judge asks the attorneys if they want him or her to recuse from a case.

But that’s what happened Tuesday morning in the moments before oral arguments in a Maryland election-law case addressing whether a candidate for the Baltimore City Council had declared his intent to run by the filing deadline, and if those challenging his candidacy had waited too long before objecting.

Assistant Maryland Attorney General Julia Doyle Bernhardt, representing the State Board of Elections, and H. Mark Stichel, the challengers’ attorney, were asked outside of public view whether they had any objection to Judge Joseph M. Getty participating in the case before the Court of Appeals.

Getty, who spent much of his prior judicial life as a state legislator and adviser to governors, wanted to know if the attorneys had concerns about his impartiality in light of his personal experience with Maryland’s election law, Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera explained in open court. Bernhardt and Stichel voiced no objection, Barbera added before the arguments began in the case, Linda H. Lamone et al. v. Ian Schlakman et al., No. 50, September Term 2016.

Later that day, the high court — which included Getty — ruled in favor of the board, saying Ian Schlakman and Frank Richardson had waited too long before filing their suit challenging Dan Sparaco’s candidacy for the District 12 council seat.

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