ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Larry Hogan’s three nominees for Maryland’s top and intermediate appellate courts took a giant step toward confirmation Monday evening.
The Senate Executive Nominations Committee recommended by voice vote that the full Senate vote to confirm Easton lawyer Brynja McDivitt Booth to the Court of Appeals and Calvert County Circuit Judge E. Gregory Wells and Bethesda attorney Steven B. Gould to the intermediate Court of Special Appeals. A Senate vote on confirmation could come as early as this week.
The committee’s recommendation immediately followed a hearing at which the three appellate court nominees made their case for Senate approval.
Booth, in a nod toward her lack of judicial experience, spoke of her vast experience as an appellate lawyer and her “passion for research and writing” as qualities that would serve her well on Maryland’s top court. She told the committee she looks forward to “the collaborative process of the appellate bench.”
Sen. Delores G. Kelley, D-Baltimore County, pressed Booth, a civil litigator, on her lack of experience representing criminal defendants.
Booth responded that she has handled drunken driving cases and minor criminal matters and said that nobody joins the bench knowing the full body of law.
“We can’t be an expert in all fields,” Booth said, noting the importance of research.
Sen. Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore city Democrat, asked Booth her views regarding legislative redistricting, the subject of legal challenges in Maryland’s high court when the districts are redrawn every 10 years.
“I have formulated no opinions on that issue,” said Booth, an attorney with Booth, Booth, Cropper & Marriner P.C.
She noted that the constitutionality of the redrawing of Maryland’s westernmost congressional district, the 6th, is on appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices will hear argument next Tuesday on whether Maryland’s Democratic leaders redrew the district to be so heavily Democratic as to violate Republican voters’ constitutional right to political association.
Citing that case, Booth said the issue of redistricting “may be decided for the state as part of that process” at the high court.
The justices are expected to render their decision by this summer in the case, Lamone et al. v. Benisek et al., No. 18-726.
If confirmed by the Senate, Booth would succeed Sally D. Adkins on the high court.
Wells, a nominee to the Court of Special Appeals, said that if confirmed to the appellate court he would continue his practice as a trial judge of taking “the time to write opinions to guide the litigants and attorneys.”
Wells would succeed Judge Deborah S. Eyler on the intermediate court.
Gould, the other nominee to the Court of Special Appeals, spoke of his experience litigating on a “wide range” of civil matters, including the representation of public and private companies, many owned by minorities or women.
“I am both excited and humbled” by the nomination, said Gould, of Brown/Gould/Kiely.
Gould said being a Court of Special Appeals judge was an “immense responsibility” that he has the “humility” to discharge.
If confirmed, Gould would succeed Judge Patrick L. Woodward on the appellate court.