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Hogan’s call for diverse high court applicants gets answered

Gov. Larry Hogan’s call for greater ethnic diversity among applicants for a coming Maryland high court vacancy has been answered by five candidates of African, Cuban or Egyptian descent.

Hogan made his request last month in asking the judiciary to readvertise the coming Court of Appeals opening after an initial slate of seven applicants consisted of six white men and a white woman.

The 12 applicants are vying for the high court seat that will become vacant Feb. 23 when Judge Robert N. McDonald reaches the state’s mandatory judicial retirement age of 70.

Citing the same diversity concerns, Hogan has also requested a readvertisement for candidates to fill the Court of Appeals seat that will become vacant when Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty reaches 70 on April 14. The first four applicants for the vacancy were two white men and two white women.

Applications for that vacancy are due by 4:30 p.m. Nov. 30.

Hogan spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver-Churchill stated via email this month that the readvertisements were requested due to the governor’s belief that “the judiciary should reflect the diversity of the citizens it judges and serves.”

The five additional candidates for McDonald’s coming vacancy — who met the readvertised Thursday deadline for applying — are Harford County Circuit Judges Yolanda L.Curtin, Angela M. Eaves and Paul W. Ishak; Deputy Baltimore County Attorney Glenn T. Marrow; and Senior Assistant Howard County Solicitor Morenike E. Oyenusi.

Curtin and Oyenusi are from Cuba and Nigeria, respectively; Ishak’s father was from Egypt; and Eaves and Marrow are Black.

These five applicants join the list of seven candidates who met the initial Oct. 19 application deadline: 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.

The dozen candidates for McDonald’s vacancy, and those who will apply for Getty’s seat, will be vetted by the Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission. The panel will winnow the list and submit its slate of potential high court nominees to Hogan.

The governor’s nominee will be subject to Senate confirmation.

McDonald holds the high court seat reserved for an attorney or judge who lives in Baltimore County or Harford County. Getty holds the seat reserved for an attorney or judge from the following counties: Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Howard or Washington.

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.

A recent national survey of state supreme courts noted that the Maryland Court of Appeals has no Latino or Asian American judge.

The Brennan Center for Justice’s April 2021 report did find 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.