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Hogan names judges in Anne Arundel, Charles, Caroline counties

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan appointed an ex-Baltimore prosecutor, a former judge and a state’s attorney to trial court judgeships in Anne Arundel, Charles and Caroline counties this week.

Hogan named Christine M. Celeste, who served for 15 years as an assistant Baltimore state’s attorney, to the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. Celeste will succeed retired Judge William C. Mulford II.

Former Charles County Circuit Judge Patrick J. Devine, who lost his seat in the 2020 election, was named to the Charles County District Court. Devine succeeds retired Judge W. Louis Hennessy.

Caroline County State’s Attorney Joseph A. Riley was named to the Caroline County District Court. Riley will succeed Judge Heather L. Price, whom Hogan elevated to the Caroline County Circuit Court in January.

“I am proud to appoint this group of distinguished individuals to fill roles across our state’s judicial system,” Hogan said in a statement. “I am confident that Ms. Celeste, Mr. Devine and Mr. Riley will bring valuable experience and knowledge to the bench and will continue to honorably serve their communities.”

Hogan’s office provided brief biographies of the appointees.

Celeste, most recently attorney adviser for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, was an assistant Maryland bar counsel after serving as a Baltimore prosecutor. As an assistant state’s attorney, Celeste served as deputy chief of the office’s gun violence enforcement division and the crime strategies unit.

Celeste was also specially assigned as an assistant U.S. attorney for Maryland from 2008 to 2012.

The University of Maryland School of Law graduate began her legal career as a law clerk for Baltimore City Circuit Judge Clifton J. Gordy.

Devine, whom Hogan appointed to the circuit court in November 2018, lost to now-Judge Makeba Gibbs in November 2020. Devine has served as an assistant Charles County state’s attorney since then.

Devine, a past president of the Charles County Bar Association, was in private practice before being named to the bench and specialized in criminal defense, personal injury and family law.

He was a partner at Sasscer, Clagett & Bucher in Upper Marlboro for five years after serving the previous 11 as a partner at Devine & Fanning PA in Oxon Hill.

The graduate from Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law began his legal career as a law clerk for Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Darlene Perry from 1989 to 1990. Devine then began a five-year stint as an assistant Charles County state’s attorney.

Riley, a Republican like Hogan, has been Caroline County’s elected state’s attorney since 2019. Before that, he served as interim state’s attorney after Hogan appointed Jonathan G. Newell to the Caroline County Circuit Court in August 2016. Newell killed himself in September 2021 as FBI agents were about to arrest him on charges of sexual exploitation of a child.

Riley, a 2007 University of Baltimore School of Law graduate, was an assistant Somerset County state’s attorney from 2008 to 2010, when he began serving as an assistant state’s attorney in Caroline County.

The career prosecutor served most recently as legislative chair of the Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association.

Hennessy stepped down from the Charles County District Court in May amid allegations from the Commission on Judicial Disabilities that he had given legal advice to two men facing assault charges and had spoken to their alleged domestic violence victims. Hennessy denied the allegations of ethical wrongdoing.

The Maryland Court of Appeals dismissed the commission’s claims against Hennessy without prejudice in June in light of Hennessy’s retirement.