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Editorial Advisory Board: Questions for the next chief judge

We think that the selection of the next chief judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland is very important. Here are 20 questions for the governor to consider asking each candidate as he makes his selection, and ones we would like to ask the next chief judge ourselves:

  1. To how many cases should the Court of Appeals grant certiorari in each term? What standards should apply? Should the decision-making be more transparent?
  2. What standards would you impose for taking cases under appeal to the Court of Special Appeals, but undecided?
  3. Would you mandate or work with the chief judge of the Court of Special Appeals to assure that each case in that court (as in the Court of Appeals) is decided in the term in which it is heard? If not, why not?
  4. Let’s assume hypothetically that a case comes to the Court of Appeals which is virtually identical to a case previously decided by the Court of Appeals, so that the new case presents an opportunity for the court to overrule its earlier holding. When the issue of stare decisis is before the court in a case such as this, what approach should the court take in reaching a decision, and what factors should be most important in the court’s analysis? In other words, please state the doctrine of stare decisis that you would apply. What judges do you most admire on the application of the principles of stare decisis?
  5. What is the proper role of the Court of Appeals in construing the rights under the Maryland Constitution and Declaration of Rights differently than those in the United States Constitution?
  6. What is the role of the Court of Appeals in altering long-settled common law?
  7. What would your standards be for evaluating the performance of sitting administrative judges? Under what circumstances would you replace sitting administrative judges?
  8. Do you have any criteria in mind for persons you would appoint as administrative judges, and do you envision term limits for administrative judges (such as in the federal system)?
  9. As head of the state’s court system, how would you interact with the Bar?
  10. What are the principal weaknesses in the Maryland justice system generally, the court system particularly, and how as chief judge would you meet them?  How would you communicate those issues and possible responses to the coordinate branches of state government?
  11. Should judges at the trial or appellate level be subject to a regular evaluation? If so, at what intervals? Who should implement any such evaluation and what aspects of judicial performance should be evaluated? Who should be consulted:  the general public, lawyers, bar associations, interest groups, other judges? What about confidentiality?
  12. Are you satisfied with how Maryland currently deals with allegations of judicial misconduct? If not, what changes would you want to see?
  13. Should the judicial nominating and appointment process be altered?
  14. Should judges stand for election or retention as they do now, or should that be altered?
  15. Should the retirement age for judges be altered? Should the geographical limitations for judges be altered?
  16. What powers should the chief judge have that he or she does not already possess? What powers does the chief judge already possess that he or she should not have?
  17. What is the most important decision by the Court of Appeals on separation of powers among the coordinate branches of state government? Why is it important?
  18. What resources should a judge draw upon to decide a case?
  19. What should Maryland learn from the experience of other states and countries in dealing with criminal and civil justice? Be specific.
  20. What do you do to expose yourself to a diversity of views in politics, law, the social sciences and other areas of interest?


James B. Astrachan, Chair

James K. Archibald

Gary E. Bair

Andre M. Davis

Arthur F. Fergenson

Nancy Forster

Susan Francis

Leigh Goodmark

Roland Harris

Michael Hayes

Julie C. Janofsky

Ericka N. King

Angela W. Russell

Debra G. Schubert

H. Mark Stichel

The Daily Record Editorial Advisory Board is composed of members of the legal profession who serve voluntarily and are independent of The Daily Record. Through their ongoing exchange of views, members of the board attempt to develop consensus on issues of importance to the bench, bar and public. When their minds meet, unsigned opinions will result. When they differ, or if a conflict exists, majority views and the names of members who do not participate will appear. Members of the community are invited to contribute letters to the editor and/or columns about opinions expressed by the Editorial Advisory Board.