Carroll County's own Joseph Getty will hold one of the highest judicial seats in the state, if his appointment to the Maryland Court of Appeals by Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday is confirmed by the state Senate.
Getty had previously represented Carroll in the House of Delegates and state Senate until being made Hogan's chief legislative officer in 2015 when the Republican governor took office. If confirmed, he'll join Judge Robert McDonald as the seven-member Court of Appeals' only judges appointed without previous experience on the bench.
While that's unusual for Maryland, it's not unheard of — retired Judge Lynne Battaglia, whom Getty will replace, was also not a judge before her appointment in 2001 — and it doesn't make Getty any less qualified for the post.
In fact, we think Getty's experience in both the legislative and executive branches of government should serve him well on the bench, adding a unique perspective to the court, which serves as the highest court in Maryland, setting legal precedent through its decisions.
Having graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law and passing the bar in 1996, Getty has maintained a law office in Manchester for the past 20 years, and has put his legal expertise to good use, serving on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and the House Judiciary Committee during his time in the state legislature.
Carroll County State's Attorney Brian DeLeonardo told us the Maryland State's Attorney's Association walked away from its meeting with Getty "impressed" prior to his appointment, and DeLeonardo called him "intellectual and fair," important qualities in a judge at any level. House Speaker Michael E. Busch, a Democrat, called Getty "a fair-minded individual," in an interview with The Baltimore Sun.
Certainly, critics will say Hogan appointing one of his closest advisers to the high court reeks of cronyism, and the truth is, it probably didn't hurt Getty's chances. Plus, his focus on legislative initiatives over the past two decades means he'll have some catching up to do with his lack of judicial experience.
Still, Getty has shown through his ascension in state politics and his efforts helping people of Carroll County that he is willing to put in the hard work necessary to be successful, and he is well respected by his contemporaries, no matter their political leanings.
Getty should represent Carroll County well on the high court.