House passes bill so Orphans' judge can practice law


A bill that would allow a Howard County Orphans' Court judge to continue practicing law in Columbia has passed its first obstacle.

The House of Delegates voted 120-16 on Thursday to ease a general rule that prohibits private legal practices for orphans' court judges in Howard, Harford, Montgomery, Prince George's and Calvert counties and Baltimore City.

The legislation would permit Orphans' Court Judge Sherae M. McNeal, a Democrat, to resume her private practice in Columbia.

Democratic Del. Frank S. Turner, the bill's major sponsor and a former Orphans' Court judge, compared the exception to one given to former County Executive Charles I. Ecker about eight years ago when he benefited from a retirement plan from the school system as he ran for county executive.

"I don't think it's unusual to do this," Turner said, although three members of the county delegation opposed the measure. "When it passed the House, it passed the House without any debate."

A hearing on the bill before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has not been scheduled.

Pub Date: 3/23/99

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