Alison Asti For Circuit Court Judge

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I am Alison Asti and I am a candidate for Circuit Court Judge in Anne Arundel County. I am running for Judge because I believe that I have the best qualifications and that the integrity of the independence of the judiciary must be protected. An independent judiciary is the cornerstone of the Constitution and key to the separation of powers established by our founding fathers.

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Category: Local Politics, POLITICAL NEWS

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  • Seth Perry

    Hi Ms. Asti. Don’t want to sound too aggressive, but I have a few questions for you:

    You stress your independence and remind voters that your opponents were appointed by O’Malley because of their party. Why, then, do you flaunt your endorsement from Bob Ehrlich in your video and on the home page of your website? If you believe the judge’s election should be truly apolitical, then I question why you have sought the endorsement of such a prominent Republican in Maryland. Jarashow and Kiessling, meanwhile, list no endorsements from politicians on their home page, but instead those of the local newspaper and police force.

    If you were once president of the Maryland State Bar Association, why has it endorsed Kiessling and Jarashow?
    http://www.msba.org/departments/commpubl/press_ctr/pressrel/2010/pr10_004.asp

    And what exactly makes you more qualified to be a judge than someone who is an actual judge? All three candidates in the race have legal experience, but you are the only one with no judiciary experience–yet you have made this one of the focuses of your campaign.

    On a less inquisitive note, I do appreciate your bringing the Ravens to Baltimore.

    Seth

  • Fred Shubbie™©®

    Ms. Asti, Here you are expressing what can only be described as a personal opinion. Judges express opinions everyday, and they are compelled to render well-reason opinions and are capable of articulating the same.

    What convincing reasons have you articulated here for your curt opinion ? None. We need convincing and I am not convinced by your rhetoric.

    Thank you for your consideration in the matter.

  • Gary Thompson

    As I watch and follow the local politics I have taken a interest in the Circuit Court Judges race, I have heard both sides of the argument, drawing my conclusion that Ms. Asti is as quailified as the appointed who by MD law now have to go through the election process, I belive the good old boy mentality of intitlement is in play here and the bar doesn’t like it when someone out side the process challenges. And the process from what I can see has become political, Mr. O’Malley’s appointments so far to the bench has been overwhelmingly democrats.

  • Arthur Frank

    Alison Asti will make a GREAT Circuit Court Judge. Almost all Judges that are appointed have only a very narrow field of experience and must become proficient in many other disciplines they have never dealt with (i.e., no current candidate for Judge has serious experience in family law cases, which makes up more than 50% of the court dockets). Also, with the extreme volume of foreclosure cases now being filed, ONLY ALISON ASTI has the extenstive legal experience to interpret, read and sift through these complex contract and real estate documents. Alison Asti will bring just the right kind of balance the Circuit Court needs!

  • Robert McKinney

    As an attorney and former President of the MD Bar Association Alison Asti posseses great intellegence, integrity and wisdom. It is my heartfelt belief that she will make an excellent Circuit Court Judge for the citizens of Anne Arundel County and the state of Maryland. I believe this as one who observed her approach and relied on her legal judgement during my time as a member and Chairman of the MD Stadium Authority. At MSA she dealt with very complicated and knotty legal matters including numerous litigations that required a clear understanding of the law. Whether it was trademark law, suing the City or going toe to toe with Mr. Angelos and the Orioles in complex and sophisticated arbitration matters, Ms. Asti was always on top of her game. Her broad legal background of both a private and public practice, combined with her outstanding attributes as a person make her a tremendous choice for Circuit Court Judge.

  • Seth Perry

    I am by now well aware, after watching the video, reading the website, and the comments here, that Ms. Asti is capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound and suchlike. My question is not with her legal experience, which seems to be quite sound, nor her qualifications, as she seems like she would be a very adequate judge, but the fact that her entire campaign is simply riding on a wave of anti-incumbency fervor. That, to me, is not how judicial elections should be decided. I believe she is as qualified as the sitting incumbents, but not more so, and she should certainly not steal the seat of an equally competent judge simply because she has pandered to the current mood of partisan politics. If Ms. Asti would like to wait until there is a vacancy or a truly bad judge and then launch a completely apolitical campaign, I would be less skeptical.

  • Paula Peters

    It is very disturbing that someone with absolutely no experience would be arrogant enough to run to be a circuit Court Judge—let alone to advertise herself as “experienced”. I cringe to think about the effect on public safety or families in Anne Arundel County if we have a judge who has never been in court, tried a case, argued a case or represented a client in the court where she wants to judge

    Mrs. Asti’s support comes from lawyers outside Anne Arundel County as all of her experience in the legal field is from Baltimore City. I think everyone should take note that she was President of the Maryland State Bar Association in 2007 yet the association endorsed Judges Kiessling and Jarashow.

    It is also interesting to note that although she uses pictures of herself with Bob Erlich, he has not endorsed her for this position.

    She complains that the current appointees were selected by a political process. She did at least three mailings to Republican voters in which she stated she was the only Republican running. In one mailing, she urged the Republicans to vote only for her. What process is more political?

  • Oliver Wendell

    Ms. Asti – Please answer some questions that you might have expected to answer had you had any review by a judicial nominating commission (Mr. Ehrlich’s or Mr. O’Malley’s):

    I have heard the comments before that you worked on trademark issues. Trademark law typically involves federal law, does it not? Are you suggesting that the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County has a notable volume of trademark cases?

    Could you please describe your participation in the complex and sophisticated arbritration matters noted by Mr. McKinney? When I heard you speak, you indicated that $500,000 (some of which seemingly would have to have been taxpayer money) was spent fighting with the Orioles over whether a retired MSA employee could have a reserved parking space. That does not sound particularly complex, nor did your description offer any insight into the outcome from your side or your participation in the actual arbitration proceeding. Perhpas you could fill in the missing details.

    Have you handled a foreclosure case before? Mr. Frank seems to suggest you know all about foreclosure cases, so could you please provide us with some citations to foreclosure cases you handled. I understand that Mr. Jarashow has represented creditors with claims against parties in bankruptcy proceedings, which sounds like he might know something about the legal and procedural complexities of debt collection proceedings such as a foreclosure.

    Mr. Frank says no candidate for Judge has any experience in “family law” matters. I’m not sure exactly how he’s defining “family law”, but I’ll assume he means “divorce” even though family law can be much broader than that. Early in her career, Laura Kiessling handled child support enforecement cases, and I see on Case Search that Ron Jarshow has handled some guardianships. (I bet somewhere along the way they each encountered a case where elements of “family law” came in to play; for instance, Laura Kiessling prosecuting a grandparent for international child abduction, or Ron Jarashow representing a little girl who was molested by her grandfather in a claim against him). What kind of matter have you handled that might relate to “family law”? Surely you took a pro bono case somewhere along the way when you were in practice up in Baltimore?

    Even if we accept Mr. Frank’s comment that none of the candidates have significant “family law” background, I believe that “family law” cases use the same rules of evidence as other cases, and that the rules of civil procedure would apply to a “family law” case in the same manner as other civil cases. Could you give us the citation of a case where you argued for evidence to come in or be kept out? Or, could you tell us about a motion you made and argued under the rules of civil procedure?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughtful responses to these questions!

  • Alison Asti

    I am running for Judge because:

    We need more Judges with a business and State law background who can handle complex commercial cases, including lending and foreclosure matters, which are my areas of expertise. The Circuit Court in Annapolis is where most of the cases involving State law are heard—such as the slots referendum. I believe I am the best qualified candidate.

    It is critical that we maintain an independent judiciary. Our Constitution contemplates three separate but equal branches of government: the legislative branch, executive branch and judicial branch. Under the current administration, the rules have been changed by Executive Order so that the executive branch controls the appointment of judges, and the process has become very partisan and political. If no one has the courage to stand up for the principle of an independent judiciary and run against the Governor’s two appointments, we do not have an independent judiciary, and we are not meeting the most basic tenet of the founding of our country. I am running because I believe in the Constitution and the independence of the judiciary!

  • Seth Perry

    Ms Asti:

    I can agree with most of your first paragraph except for the last statement, which I believe is subjective.

    Your second paragraph is what concerns me most. First of all, believing in the Constitution does not make one qualified to be a judge. I, along with approximately 300 million other people, believe in the Constitution. This does not mean that I would make a good judge.
    Furthermore, are you trying to insinuate that your opponents do NOT believe in the Constitution or the independence of the judiciary? That is certainly a harsh claim and you do not have any evidence to back that up.

    You cannot denounce the current process as partisan and political, nor call yourself an independent, if you feature Bob Ehrlich prominently in your campaign and, as Ms. Peters has informed us, target Republican voters and promote yourself as a Republican.

    And the constitution has not been ‘changed’ so that the executive branch appoints judges. Read on:
    “He (the president) shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States.”
    The Maryland constitution may be somewhat different, but the judicial system of this country was founded on executive appointment of judges.

    The thing that worries me most is that your campaign is obviously partisan, yet you have based your campaign around decrying partisanship.

    I believe in your qualifications but not your motivations.

  • Oliver Wendell

    Ms. Asti, you say – “If no one has the courage to stand up for the principle of an independent judiciary and run against the Governor’s two appointments, we do not have an independent judiciary.” No one I know of believes that the appointment of these two individuals involved any particular partisan politics, and all the attorneys I know, except you, seems pretty comfortable that they possess the strength of character to exercise independent judgment. Members of the Anne Arundel County Bar, Republicans and Democrats alike, as well as police officers, sheriffs, and others who are actually around the court house on a regular basis, were universally pleased with the intelligence, independence and overall qualifications of these two.
    What exactly do you mean by “business and state law” background? Judges Jarashow and Kiessling both are well versed in Maryland “state” law, so that makes no sense whatsoever. Further, you and Mr. McKinney were the ones that dropped federal “trademark law” as somehow boosting your qualifications to be a state Circuit Court Judge.
    As to business law, Judge Jarashow was selected as one of the Top “Go To” Business attorneys in Greater Baltimore area in 2009 SmartCEO Magazine (and he has done some trademark law, too).
    Other than the Stadium Authority, can you tell us about some small businesses, with limited budgets for attorneys and litigation, which you have represented?
    Have you ever run a small business yourself, without state money behind you in case the economics of the venture did not hold up? Judge Jarashow ran a small business for 35 years in the form of managing a private law practice. I do not know of anything in your career that would give you an understanding of what it is to “make a payroll”.
    Again, can you cite us to some residential or commercial foreclosure case you have handled in the past? You didn’t answer that question at all. (I don’t doubt that you know how to write finance documents; I assume your job involved drafting state bonds to cover millions of dollars of state capital projects.)
    Finally, I second Seth’s comment about the appointment process. You were appointed by Governor Glendening to serve on a Task Force on Judicial Nominating Commissions — obviously you know that governors have been appointing judges for decades and it is borders on dishonest for you to suggest that O’Malley is the first governor “to control the appointment of judges”. Ms. Peters, above, was on Ehrlich’s Nominating Commission, and she endorses Judges Jarashow and Kiessling.

  • Ted Staples

    I’m sorry to say but Ms. Asti has absolutely no idea of what goes on in a Circuit Coourt (much less the AA County Circuit Court because she has never tried a case there). 70% of the docket is domestic and criminal. Ms. Asti has ZERO experience in either. Foreclosures are still a small part of the docket and are handled mostly by reviewing forms (by law clerks) then passed on to the Judge. Transactional litigation (Ms. Asti’s one strong point as far as being a transactional lawyer) is an extremely minor portion of the Court’s docket. Therefore, her “experience” is really minimal. Second, Ms. Asti makes much of the politicalization of the process; yet, as many others have pointed out-she is the one who interjected politics into the race. Along those lines, fmr. Gov. Ehrlich has NOT endorsed her-she can put her signs on his and have her picture taken w/ him but I challenge her to show us his endorsement of her-she will decline the challenge because he hasn’t. Last, when one examines Ms. Asti’s tenure at the Maryland Stadium Authority, it is replete w/ cronyism and outrageous expenditures. Do you realize she OKed payment in the amount of $42,000 to a crony-all for 1 HOUR, yep, 1 HOUR worth of work. Is this really the Judge you want!

    • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

      Just thinking out loud here. If 30% of the docket might be non family or criminal cases, do the existing judges and the two recent nominees have the experience to handle that 30%?

      On the $42K, I looked into that and to clarify Mr. Staples’ comment, the Executive Director prior to Asti negotiated an open ended agreement to provide “consulting” during the transition. The Board did not stipulate what work (if any) needed to be done or how much time was required to be spent. This $42K obligation was an agreement already in place when Asti took the position and negotiated by the Board, not Asti. Asti did indeed authorize the payment under her watch, but it was an agreement. You agree to pay Verizon $100 a month for 400 cell minutes. If you use 100 minutes, you pay $100. If you use 1 minute, you pay $100. And somehow, I find it odd to classify the man she replaced as a “crony”.

  • Ted Staples

    John-yes, I think the 2 recent Judges (w/ decades of trial experience and now almost 10 months on the bench) do have the requisite ability, especially compared w/ Ms. Asti who has never tried a single case. It is one thing to “study”; it is another thing to actually “do”. Does it trouble you at all that she has been quoted saying she’d have to “brush up” on the Rules of Evidence or that she didn’t realize that the Rules of Evidence apply to both civil and criminal cases (she thought there were separate rules (those would be the Rules of Procedure)? Not understanding these simple concepts should frighten the voters.

  • Paula Peters

    John–I am really surprised that the $42,000 payment is dismissed as having been negotiated by someone other than Ms. Asti. Perhaps it was negotiated but she is the one who decided to pay the $42,000 without requring any work to be done. She could have required work for the $42,000. She was the executive director. The “transition” it was supposed to help with was the transition to her. She was the one who determined how much work had to be done before she would pay the $42,000 and apparently one hour of work was enough for her.

    As to the 30% of the docket being non-criminal, non-family law, both judges have relevant experience. Tort claims can arise out of criminal cases and the law that applies is the same. Judge Jarashow has handled contractual disputes. Other kinds of cases are auto accident, medical malpractice and many others, each of which iindividually is a small part of the docket.

    As mentioned above, I was on Judicial Nominating Commissions over 20 years. I quit because I was concerned about the politicalization of the process. That was NOTHING like the political manner in which Ms. Asti has conducted this campaign. The mailings she has done to republicans, identifying herself as the republican candidate, as the only republican, urging voters to single shoot for her to assure that a republican is elected—that is far worse than any political meddling in the process. The flaw in the process is a flaw that allows a completely unqualified person run in a completely partisan way against two fine judges.

  • Oliver Wendell

    John,
    The matter of the $42,000 arises as much from her role as general counsel to the MSA as from her being executive director. Were she a new executive director brought in from some other agency or business, your point would be much more well taken. However, Ms. Asti was the legal counsel to the Board when it entered into that agreement that did not stipulate any work in exchange for the payment being due to the prior executive director. In fact, Ms. Asti continued to be general counsel while serving as the then new executive director.
    In the advertisement posted here, Ms. Asti is ready and willing to take credit, as a lawyer, for “bringing the Ravens to Baltimore” when she was serving as general counsel to the Board while the Board and the Governor (and others) negotiated the terms of that deal. Why then should she not be equally recognized, as a lawyer, for paying the $42,000 to the prior executive director under the open ended agreement negotiated by the Board? In both situations she was providing legal guidance to the Board.
    She says she brings experience in complex commercial matters. One of those experiences is in employment law matters. Since we cannot examine the results of any cases she litigated because there are none, we ought to be able to examine the results of documents she negotiated and drafted as general counsel on behalf of the Board (and the taxpayers) and her conduct in advising her client how to react in interpreting those documents once those documents were in effect. If you were a small business person hiring an attorney to help you with an employment contract, you would want to know that the attorney you hire thinks about and drafts for whether your employee must perform a service before s/he is entitled to compensation.

  • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

    I am all about having a qualified judiciary. I am not aware that Ms. Asti negotiated/recommended/approved the consulting agreement with her predecessor. According to The Sun (back when it happened) it seemed like it was all the Board. And to be honest (not being an attorney) wouldn’t/shouldn’t someone recuse themselves from any negotiations in a situation like that?

    What I do find amusing is that both sides are screaming it should not be a political process and both sides are accusing the others of being political. By constitution, it MUST be political. Judges need to stand for ELECTION once appointed. I totally disagree with that concept and woudl rather see it one way or the other–elected or appointed and not some cockamamie hybrid.

    I can’t help but think there is some underlying currents in this race that few outside of the legal profession know about. I have been contacted no fewer than 5 times with “info” about Asti which (IMHO) ultimately ends up being nothing more than hearsay or opinion. .

  • Ted Staples

    Agreed-8 year appointments (not 15) and an up or down vote after that-you would have ample time to see if a judge were truly qualified. The current system is a mess-do really like to see Judges out waving signs, asking for contributions or lining up endorsements?

    However, as an attorney, there are important issues w/ who becomes a Judge and, for better or for worse, experience is critical. On the job training (in almost all facets of the law) is not a good idea for a judge.

    Let me ask you this, would you trust someone who had a medical degree but no experience in brain surgery operate on your brain? Of course not. Same analogy here.

  • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

    Ted–personally, I prefer to see my judges in the pub buying beers for the house, but alas we are in a different world.

    Not a bad analogy, but I might counter with would you be uncomfortable going to see a doctor for the flu if the doctor received his MD but did his internship for neurosurgery?

    It seems that you previously said that the docket was pretty varied in terms of cases. This is not a bankruptcy court.

  • Robert McKinney

    Mr. Frenaye is correct about the facts of the $42K payment by MSA to the previous Executive Director Mr. Slosson. The deal was negotiated by the Attorney General’s office and ratified by the MSA Board of Directors on which I served. The rationale for buying consulting time from Mr. Slosson involved potential issues with the completion of The Hippodrome Theater on which Mr. Slosson had been overseeing. It was hoped that there were no unresolved issues and the need for Mr. Slosson would be minimal. That is the way it turned out.
    To suggest that Ms. Asti threw business to a crony is misleading and an outright fabrication. Let me be clear Ms. Asti had NO direct involvement in selecting or creating a consulting contract with the former Executive Director Mr. Slosson, It was handled by an outside Assistant Attorney General at the behest of the Board and agreed to by the Board.

  • http://www.agtlawyers.com jim astrachan

    It is intriguing that although the state Constitution calls for election of judges, some members of the bar, who are supposed to be the guardians of that document, and its ideals are appalled that a person (other than a sitting judge) would participate in that election. Frankly, diversity of experience is a good thing for a bench, and Alison’s extensive and complex business background will provide a valuable asset to all the members of the bench if she is elected.

  • Paula Peters

    I wonder if Mr. McKinney was one of the board members who voted to fire Ms. Asti based upon the audit.or one of her friends.

    I wonder if Mr. McKinney’s comment is spontaneous or requested by Ms. Asti.

  • Ted Staples

    John-the court handles a variety of cases but the vast majority are in areas where candidate Asti has zero experience. In addition, she has no trial experience in any type of case. She spent her career as a transactional attorney-basically reviewing and negotiating contracts. This skill, and it is a skill, does not translate well into being a trial court judge-an appellate judge maybe, but not a trial judge.

    Further, I’m most troubled by candidate Asti’s “reasons” for running. She acknowledges that Judges Kiessling and Jarashow are “fine people” but somehow she would make a better judge-based on what? Her dearth of experience? The fact she has glommed onto Ehrlich? The fact she needs a job (this is the 3rd job she has applied for this year-she was not selected as the Clerk for Baltimore (yep, Baltimore) County nor for the position of Bar Counsel)? The fact her last name begins w/ the letter A? Really-why should either of these 2 fine Judges lose their position to her? Oh, that’s right, O’Malley has somehow subverted the process-but wait, she never applied when Ehrlich was the Governor. Why not? Maybe because she was a Democrat and making over $300k a year as head of the Stadium Authority. Tell us candidate Asti-why you?

  • Paula Peters

    I am curious — is the original post by Alison Asti for Circuit Court Judge a paid political advertisement?

  • Robert McKinney

    Ms. Peters I was not on the MSA Board at the time of Ms. Asti’s departure, but I suspect you know that. I did serve as Chairman when the audit you raise was issued. Your research should reveal that the audit covered a period that began prior to Ms. Asti’s selection as an interim, and later permanent executive director for MSA. I will repeat she did an outstanding job. The 2002 audit had 14 items while the 2006 audit only had 6 thanks to Ms. Asti and the Board’s hard work to fix the matters raised in 2002. And of the six points raised by the auditor some of them predate her ascendacy to the Exec. Dir. position, others, such as rent payments for in stadium advertising by the Orioles still remains an unresolved issue.
    Ms. Asti had an exemplary record for 17 years as MSA’s General Counsel and Exec. Dir. Her evaluations from Herb Belgrad, John Moag, John Brown, Carl Wright and me showed time and time again that she was highly qualified and executed her job very well for the citizens of MD. As for the reason of her departure I suggest you ask the Governor.

  • Ted Staples

    Mr. McKinney-please explain to the voters of AA County how candidate Asti’s tenure @ the MSA (whether as Gen’l Counsel or Exec Director) translates into qualifications for a Circuit Court Judge. Thanks.

  • Fred Shubbie™©

    So it’s settled then. Vote for Jarashow and Kiessling !! This is the right and the good thing to do for all of us.

  • http://www.agtlawyers.com jim astrachan

    in answer to Ted’s question, I quote from from a website named ! Language 123, which i agree with:

    “The qualities of a good judge include patience, wisdom, courage, firmness, alertness, incorruptability and the gifts of sympathy and insight.”

    Alison has these qualities.

  • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

    Asti does pay to advertise here and along with the banner ads you see on the site, advertisers are entitled to one post per month. The post was made by Asti (see byline) in order to comply with the FCC ruling regarding disclosure of paid content.

    Ted, politics is business. What makes you any more qualified than any number of other lawyers in town. The final determination comes from the person who decides to retain you. If the law says that any lawyer can be a judge–that is the law. Just because you feel she is less qualified than the others does not necessarily mean that she should not run for the seat.

    Is Ehrlich or O’malley any more or less qualified to be governor? What about Gatazenga?

    If you have an issue with her lack of qualifications, it seems that your time, money and efforts might be better spent working to change the laws to specify the requirements of the seat. Sort of like the MSTA should have specified what the former ED was supposed to do for $42K.

    Ultimately this will boil down to what people select on November 2nd. This is not a hidden race like the other courthouse races, this has been very public and in the forefront, so people “pinning the tail on the candidate” is not too likely as there is name recognition on behalf of all three candidates.

  • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net John Frenaye

    Oh, and if you want to advertise, you can check out the program here:
    http://www.eyeonannapolis.net/advertise/

    Right now, the only thing we have are the 250×250 side banners!

  • Ted Staples

    John-I never said she wasn’t allowed to run for the seat. I’m well aware of her “constitutional” argument. I was merely pointing out some items she has (I believe purposedly) not told the voters about her candidacy.