Two new judges will be ruling on the benches in Harford County as Gov. Martin O'Malley appointed David E. Carey and Yolanda L. Curtin to judgeships on Thursday.
"I am pleased to appoint such an accomplished and diverse group of candidates," O'Malley said in a statement. "These appointees will bring to the bench a broad range of legal expertise and true commitment to public service."
Carey, a Bel Air Town Commissioner who has served as the town's mayor and longtime lawyer with the firm Brown, Brown and Young, was appointed a Harford County District Court judge.
The appointment was the talk of the Bel Air legal community Wednesday.
"It's a great feeling; it has to sink in first," Carey said Thursday. "I am looking forward to continuing to serve the citizens in Harford County, just in a new way."
Carey said he is ready to take on the new adventure, but his first order of business is finding attorneys in his firm to take over his pending cases. He said he plans to use his 23 years of experience as a litigator to become a fair judge.
"My goal is to be fair and listen to people and make sure everyone feels like they got a fair shake," Carey said.
Carey, 49, was one of seven finalists for the Harford County District Court judge seat. Though he's held office in town government for 16 years, earlier this month when the deadline to file to run for another term passed, he chose not to seek elected office again.
At the time he said: "I've been on the board 16 years. I've enjoyed it and feel like the town has accomplished a lot, but I think it is time to give somebody else a chance."
Several judges on the bench, or retired from it, in Harford County have come from the firm Brown, Brown & Young or its predecessors.
The vacancy being filled by Carey's appointment resulted from the recent retirement of Judge John Dunnigan.
Curtin, 46, of Jarrettsville, who has nearly a decade of judicial experience, will be presiding in the Circuit Court of Harford County. She is an administrative law judge for Maryland's Office of Administrative Hearings and spent 10 years as an assistant state's attorney for Harford County.
"I am extremely excited and honored Gov. O'Malley appointed me to this position," Curtin said. "I have maintained close ties with the legal community there and to go back to be a public servant in the community where I started is amazing."
Curtin will face the voters in 2014 per the requirement that circuit court judges stand for election to a 15-year term in the first county election after their appointment. At the end of the first 15-year term, judges must stand for election again.
Curtin said her family immigrated into the United States from Havana, Cuba, in the 1960s. She obtained her law degree from Rutgers University and a master's in law from Georgetown University.
"I truly feel that coming to this country afforded me some wonderful opportunities and along the way people have been very helpful to me," Curtin said. "I grew up believing that you have to give back to the community that has given so much to you."
Curtin said she will continue to teach law courses during the spring semester at the University of Maryland School of Law.
Curtin's appointment resulted from the retirement of Judge Emory A. Plitt Jr.
Maryland District Court judges serve for 10-year terms after being appointed by the governor and are eligible for reappointment until they reach the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Unlike Circuit Court judges, there is no election requirement for a District Court judge, though they are subject to a confirmation process during the subsequent session of the Maryland General Assembly following appointment.
As of July 1, the annual salary of a district court judge in Maryland is $131,808. Circuit court judges make $144,908.