The field is crowded with 21 county lawyers eager to become Carroll County's next District Court judge.
They are vying to fill the vacancy created when Judge Donald M. Smith retired May 1. Visiting judges have been handling some of the cases since then.
The large pool of candidates is all the better for Carroll County, said Michael O'Malley, assistant state court administrator yesterday.
"There is a significant increase in participation, which is a good thing," Mr. O'Malley said, noting that the number of applicants is four more than were interested in the seat four years ago when Judge Francis M. Arnold was promoted to the Circuit Court position vacated by Judge Donald J. Gilmore.
Judge JoAnn Ellinghaus-Jones earned the seat in March 1991.
The large list, which will be sent to a nominating commission in August, could help Gov. Parris N. Glendening achieve his goal of bringing more diversity into the Maryland judicial system, Mr. O'Malley said. As of April, 36 of Maryland's 240 judges were women and 29 were African-Americans.
In April, the governor signed an executive order changing the appointment process for the Judicial Nominating Commissions. Members of the 17 commissions statewide, which serve four-year terms, narrow the applications to seven nominees from which the governor chooses to fill judicial vacancies.
"His executive order talks about sensitivity to gender and minority issues," Mr. O'Malley said. "He's the first governor to appoint a task force to evaluate the nominating process before he signed his executive order."
The task force -- which completed its study in April -- was prompted, in part, by two highly publicized incidents in which white male circuit judges in Baltimore County were accused of being insensitive to women after they gave light sentences to a rapist and a man who killed his wife.
As a result, Governor Glendening changed the appointment process for the Judicial Nominating Commissions. Under the April order, Governor Glendening will name nine members to each commission -- two lawyers, six lay people and the chairman.
Previously, all six lawyers on the commission were elected locally.
"The governor has done a good job [promoting diversity] on the lay member side, but he's never been able to improve the diversity on the elected side," Mr. O'Malley said. "He felt he could improve on the lawyer side by appointing two."
Westminster attorneys Coleen Clemente, J. Barry Hughes, J. Brooks Leahy, Karen B. Miller, Michelle M. Ostrander, Clark Shaffer, Edward Monroe Ulsch, David B. Weisgerber, and Hampstead attorney Elwood Swam are running for the four elected positions on the Judicial Nominating Commission.
Elections for the lawyer candidates should be complete by the second week of August, he said. The list will then go to Mr. Glendening, who will appoint the rest of the commission by mid-August, Mr. O'Malley said.
Mr. O'Malley said he expects the nominating commission to complete interviews and vote on the candidates in September.
District Court applicants
These people have applied for the Carroll District Court vacancy caused by the May 1 retirement of Judge Donald Smith:
Wesley Daniel Blakeslee, D
James Fitzgerald Brewer, R
John Stanley Constantinides, D
Erin M. Danz, D
J. Michael Earp, no party chosen
Michael Melvin Galloway, D
Brian David Green, D
Joseph Jeffrey Griffith, D
Damian L. Halstad, D
Linda Ann Holmes, D
Barbara Matthews Kreinar, D
Judson K. Larrimore, R
Michael Stephen Levin, D
E. Suzan Miller, D
Kelly Walfred Miller, D
Charles Michael Preston, no party chosen
Marc Gallant Raskinsky, D
Dale Robertson Reid, R
Martha Ann Sitterding, R
Mark Gregory Spurrier, not registered
) Peter Michael Tabatsko, D
Source: Carroll County election records