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Woodward named chief judge of Md. Court of Special Appeals

Judge Patrick L. Woodward wrote for the Court of Special Appeals that Davis “testified that, when he signed the affidavits of parentage, he believed that he was the biological father of the children." (FILE)

Judge Patrick L. Woodward has been named by Gov. Larry Hogan as the new chief judge of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals (FILE)

Gov. Larry Hogan has appointed Judge Patrick L. Woodward to be chief judge of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals effective May 6.

Woodward will succeed Peter B. Krauser, the intermediate appellate court’s current chief, who reaches the state’s mandatory judicial retirement age of 70 on May 5.

“I’m truly honored by the appointment,” Woodward said in an interview Friday, adding he is humbled to succeed Krauser.

“It is my hope to build on the solid foundation he has laid,” Woodward added. “I think that a high standard has been set.”

Barring a change in the constitutionally mandated retirement age, Woodward will serve as chief for at most 18 months, as he reaches age 70 in November 2018. Nevertheless, he said he looks forward to the challenge of leading the 15-member court.

“We are an extremely collegial court,” Woodward added. “We all have egos but our egos are secondary to the opinions that come out of the court. To be able to lead it is a dream come true.”

Woodward’s appointment to chief is not subject to Senate confirmation, as he is merely being elevated from his current judicial post on the Court of Special Appeals.

Woodward’s elevation to chief still leaves Hogan with the opportunity to fill the Court of Special Appeals seat left vacant by Krauser’s retirement. Twenty-seven judges and lawyers have applied for the vacancy.

The Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission will complete its vetting of these candidates and submit its winnowed list to Hogan for his consideration. The governor can either choose his nominee from the commission’s list, as is custom, or choose another candidate.

Hogan’s nominee would be subject to Senate confirmation.

The governor praised Woodward in announcing the appointment Friday.

“I am confident that Judge Woodward is the most qualified individual to fill the chief judge vacancy on the Court of Special Appeals,” Hogan said in a statement. “Judge Woodward has an exceptional and extensive judicial background, and has exhibited integrity and a strong commitment to justice. I offer him my sincere congratulations and best wishes.”

Woodward was appointed to the Court of Special Appeals by then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in 2005. Prior to his appointment, he served as a judge on the Montgomery County Circuit Court and earlier on the state district court.

Woodward said he will continue to maintain chambers at the circuit court in Rockville but expects to spend most of his time in Annapolis during the early days of his tenure as chief.

Before joining the bench, Woodward was a sole practitioner and principal for Jackson & Campbell, P.C. The Bethesda native received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1970 and his law degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1973, the same year he was admitted to the Maryland bar.


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