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3 Washington-area nominees recommended for federal bench


Two judges and a state's attorney -- all from the Washington suburbs -- have been recommended to fill vacancies on Maryland's federal bench.

Democratic Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland announced yesterday that he has asked the White House to nominate U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah K. Chasanow, Prince George's County State's Attorney Alexander Williams Jr. and Montgomery County Circuit Judge Peter J. Messitte.

"There were a number of strong candidates," Mr. Sarbanes said. "As I worked through all the factors . . . these three sort of emerged as the logical choices."

The president normally follows the recommendation of each state's senior senator for nominations to the federal bench.

The nominees would fill vacancies created by the departure of Judge Alexander Harvey II and Judge Joseph C. Howard, who have gone into semi-retired senior status, and Judge Norman P. Ramsey, who retired to return to private practice.

Mr. Sarbanes said he picked the Washington-area nominees after lis

tening to concerns that no federal judges in Maryland have come from that area. The seven current judges are from Baltimore.

If confirmed, the nominees would likely be seated at the southern division courthouse that is under construction in Greenbelt and is scheduled to open next year.

Mr. Williams, 45, is a two-term state's attorney in Prince George's and a former professor at the Howard University law school. He is a Howard University law graduate.

If confirmed, he would become the third black to serve on the court.

Magistrate Judge Chasanow, 45, was chief of the criminal appeals division in the state attorney general's office. She has been a federal magistrate judge since March 1987. She is a graduate of Stanford law school and is married to Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Howard S. Chasanow.

She would become the second woman to hold a seat on Maryland's federal bench. Shirley B. Jones resigned in 1982 after serving three years.

Judge Messitte, 51, was appointed to the Circuit Court by former Gov. Harry R. Hughes in 1985. He graduated from the University of Chicago law school.

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