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“Nationals October 2019

OPINION: Break the slate this election

| May 14, 2020, 04:45 PM

Amid all the COVID news, you may not have realized we are in the middle of an election and the primary is on June 2, 2020.  This one is unusual in one way–the majority of votes cast will be by mail (you should have received a ballot in the mail); and in another way it is just politics as usual.

Liquified Creative Annapolis

The races that most of us will see are President… US Representative… Some delegates to the national political conventions.. school board in a couple of districts and what I feel is THE most important race on the ballot— Circuit Court Judges.

This time around we are selecting 4 judges. Four of them were appointed by Governor Hogan after being recommended by a series of appointed panels. And there are two challengers. The bar to be a judge is pretty low— you need to be a US citizen, at least 30 years old, registered to vote, live in MD for 5 years, live in judicial district for 6 months and be a lawyer allowed to practice in Maryland . That’s it. You don’t even need to be a good lawyer.

The four sitting judges have decided to form a slate and run as a group—all for one and one for all. They have pooled their funds to run as a single entity–and they’d like you to think that.  But, you do not need to vote for all four. You can vote for one, two, three, four or none of them.

I do not intend to tell you who is deserving of your vote, but I might suggest that you not vote for one member of the slate.  Not anyone in particular, just not one–and here’s why!

Why would anyone want to elect a group to the bench?  In nearly every election we hear about the need for diversity. I agree. So why do we want to select four judges that admittedly have  some common bond?

A bench full of like-minded jurists is not good for anyone. A solid bench should be diverse in gender, color, age, political party, ideology and thinking. This slate of four is not. There is glue that holds them together.

We know that one of the bonds is that they are all judges appointed by the same governor and garnered favor from the same committee of people that recommended them to the governor.  But what else? Are they all one political party? Do they share the same biases? Are they all conservative? Liberal? Pro choice? Pro Life?  It’s hard to say. But they ARE connected in some way.

The sitting judges have been endorsed by the local Anne Arundel County Police unions. That should give pause to some defense attorneys and defendants–think about it. Will a defendant really be innocent until proven guilty?

The four judges we elect will be seated on the bench for 15 years or until they hit 70… making what amounts to life and death decisions for many residents of Anne Arundel County—rich ones, poor ones, white, black and brown ones. Documented and undocumented, guilty and innocent.

Some will say that the four sitting judges have experience. Not really. Three of them were appointed in late 2018 and will have 20 months experience when the primary rolls around. The fourth was appointed in December 2019. We are not talking about years of experience here by any means.

We do not even have any track record to go on…The Robing Room ranks judges…and the four are all too new to have any rankings. There is no report card available to the public for us to cast a thoughtful vote. Were the cases they heard (if they heard any) decided fairly and without prejudice? We simply do not know.

Absent any realistic background available on the incumbents who are running as a team, my suggestion is to vote for at least one challenger to the slate. Break it up. By breaking it up, we are eliminating an advantage that the four sitting judges had hoped to accomplish by running as a group.

I have no doubt that ALL of the candidates are qualified. Individually each will serve the county well as independent thinkers without some shared commonality.

The four existing judges running as a slate are Pamela Alban, Elizabeth Morris, Rob Thompson and Rich Trunnell. The two challengers are Wes Adams and Annette DeCesaris.

When it comes time to fill to your ballot, remember, you have choices and I suggest that you do not vote for the slate in its entirety. Take one or two of your votes and cast it for a challenger.

And just a quick note on voting in general. You should have received a ballot in the mail by now, if not, contact the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections to find out why not and to get one. When voting by mail, you MUST sign the oath on the outside of the envelope provided (postage pre-paid) and have it postmarked no later than June 2, 2020. You can vote in person or drop off your completed ballot as well but the locations are limited. Here’s a list.

And finally, no matter how you decide to cast your votes, please vote. It IS that important!

Severn Bank

Category: OPINION, Post To FB

About the Author - John Frenaye

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for nearly 25 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news–and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009.

John’s background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.

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