Gov. Martin O'Malley announced the appointment of seven new circuit court judges Wednesday, including a woman whose promotion makes her the first judge of Asian descent at that level.

"The appointment of judges is one of the most important responsibilities of any chief executive," O'Malley said in a statement, describing his selections as "highly qualified, talented and diverse."

Two judges, including Jeannie J. Hong, were appointed for the city. Hong, who is one of two Asian Pacific-American judges in Maryland, has served at the District Court level in Baltimore for nine years, most recently as its judge in charge.

She specialized in domestic violence cases and oversaw a program that combined, under one roof, legal help and social services options for victims. She was an assistant state's attorney in the city prior to becoming a judge and also worked as a staff attorney for the Maryland Department of Human Resources, according to the governor's office.

Also appointed to Baltimore's Circuit Court was Michael Wilson Reed, a lawyer with the law office of Peter T. Nicholl, which focuses on liability cases involving medical malpractice, asbestos lung disease, lead-paint poisoning and other types of negligence-related conditions.

Reed joined the Nicholl group early this year, after spending five years representing the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for the Attorney General's office. Prior to that, he was an assistant state's attorney in Baltimore and legislative counsel to the Maryland General Assembly, O'Malley's office said.

Four judges were appointed to Prince George's County circuit court, including district court judges Krystal Quinn Alves, Daneeka Varner Cotton and Hassan Ali El-Amin. John Paul Davey, who's been in private practice in the county for 21 years, was also assigned to the court.

Master Jane Cairns Murray, who also specialized in domestic relations cases, was appointed to Cecil County's Circuit Court.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com