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Hogan again seeks more applicants for high court vacancy, cites needed diversity

Judges and lawyers residing in Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Howard and Washington counties who desire to sit on Maryland’s top court have until the last day of November to submit their applications after Gov. Larry Hogan said an initial slate of four applicants did not satisfy the breadth of “diversity and outreach” he seeks on the bench.

Citing Hogan’s request to reopen the application process, the Maryland Judiciary has extended until 4:30 p.m. Nov. 30 the deadline to apply for the Court of Appeals seat that will become vacant April 14 when Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty reaches the state’s mandatory judicial retirement age of 70.

The four current applicants for Getty’s coming vacancy include two white men and two white women. A recent national survey of state supreme courts noted that the Maryland Court of Appeals has no Latino or Asian American judge.

Hogan’s request that the vacancy be “readvertised” marked the second time in as many months that the governor found fault with an all-white slate of applicants for a coming Court of Appeals opening.

In October, the Judiciary extended until Nov. 18 the application deadline for the seat Judge Robert N. McDonald will vacate on Feb. 23. All seven current applicants for McDonald’s seat are white.

Hogan spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver-Churchill stated via email Wednesday that “we believe the judiciary should reflect the diversity of the citizens it judges and serves.”

The Brennan Center for Justice’s April 2021 survey found that the ethnic and gender diversity on Maryland’s seven-member top court exceeds  the national average regarding Black and women state supreme court judges.

The Court of Appeals consists of two Black women, Shirley M. Watts and Michele D. Hotten; a white woman, Brynja M. Booth; and four white men, Getty, McDonald, Jonathan Biran and Steven B. Gould.

Maryland, at 28%, exceeds the national average of 17% of state supreme court judges who are people of color and, at 42%, bests the national average of 39% of seats held by women. Maryland had reached 57% for women before then-Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera stepped down in September upon reaching age 70.

Hogan subsequently elevated Getty to chief judge and selected Gould for the high court.

The four current applicants to succeed Getty met the initial Oct. 27 application deadline. They are Court of Special Appeals Chief Judge Matthew J. Fader; Court of Special Appeals Judges Kathryn Grill Graeff and Andrea M. Leahy; and Steven L. Tiedemann, general counsel at Powell Recovery Center Inc. in Baltimore.

The seven current applicants for McDonald’s seat met the initial Oct. 19 application deadline. They are Court of Special Appeals Judges Daniel A. Friedman and Douglas R.M. Nazarian; Baltimore County Circuit Judge Dennis M. Robinson Jr.; and attorneys Robert S. Brennen, of Miles & Stockbridge in Baltimore; Irwin R. Kramer, of Kramer & Connolly in Reisterstown; Jason D. Medinger, of the U.S. attorney’s office for Maryland; and Julie M. Reamy, a Baltimore solo practitioner.

All applicants for the vacancies will be vetted by the Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission, which will winnow the list and submit recommendations for selection to Hogan. The governor’s nominee will be subject to Senate confirmation.

Getty holds the seat on the seven-member high court reserved for an attorney or judge who resides in any of the following counties: Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Howard or Washington.

McDonald holds the seat reserved for an attorney or judge from Baltimore County or Harford County.

Prior to these two coming vacancies, the last readvertisement for a Court of Appeals opening occurred in 2015 after only two people applied for the seat left vacant when Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. retired. The readvertisement attracted three more candidates.

Hogan subsequently appointed Hotten to the seat.

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