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Seven candidates' names submitted for judgeship District Judge Landbeck resigned in April


The Trial Courts Judicial Nominating Commission has pared a list of 28 applicants to fill the vacant judgeship in Harford County District Court to seven and sent those names to the governor, George B. Riggin Jr., the state court administrator, said Wednesday. The position became vacant when Judge John S. Landbeck Jr. decided in February not to seek another 10-year term and resigned April 10 amid allegations that he had made inappropriate remarks or given unwelcome attention to several women in the courthouse.

The seven candidates to succeed Judge Landbeck are Victor Kuras Butanis, Paula Sutton Etting, Theodore M. Hart, Michael Clifford Hickey Jr., Charles Edward Kearney Jr., Jay Elliot Robinson and Betty Stemley Sconion.

Mr. Hart is the juvenile master for Harford Circuit Court and Mr. Robinson is the county's deputy state's attorney.

Mr. Butanis, Ms. Etting and Mr. Kearney have law practices based in Bel Air. Mr. Hickey's practice is based in Edgewood and Ms. Sconion's in Aberdeen.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening will interview each candidate before naming one to fill the Harford County vacancy, state court officials said.

Man pleads guilty to 1983 arson

An Edgewood man accused of attempting to set fire in 1983 to his former girlfriend's home and setting fire to her parents' home pleaded guilty to attempted arson and arson in Harford Circuit Court Tuesday.

As the jury waited in another room to try the case, the defendant, Joshua Lee Preston, 43, of the 1900 block of Edgewater Drive, changed his plea to guilty on both charges.

Judge Stephen M. Waldron sentenced him to seven years in prison on the attempted arson charge, but suspended two years and placed Preston on four years of supervised probation upon his release.

Judge Waldron also suspended a consecutive 20-year sentence on the arson charge.

Preston was given credit for 406 days already served in jail since his arrest in September 1994.

Court records show that Preston was indicted on the charges Oct. 18, 1983. A bench warrant for his arrest was issued Jan. 5, 1984, after he failed to appear in court.

Prosecutor Jay Elliot Robinson said Preston apparently was out of state for much of the time between 1984 and 1994.

In September 1994, police responded to a complaint in Edgewood about a man's erratic behavior and found Preston, Mr. Robinson recalled. Police routinely checked Preston's record and learned of the old warrant, he said.

In the courtroom Tuesday, Preston told Judge Waldron he has been receiving medical treatment for "bad nerves." He said he was diagnosed as a hypochondriac.

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