Interviews for judgeship likely today; Glendening expected to meet with five finalists for bench; Decision may take weeks; Vacancy created in June when Arnold reached retirement age


Gov. Parris N. Glendening was expected to interview five nominees today for the vacant seat on the Circuit Court bench for Carroll County, Michael E. Morrill, a spokesman for the governor, said yesterday.

The vacancy occurred in June, when Judge Francis M. Arnold turned 70, the mandatory retirement age for Maryland judges.

The county's Circuit Court is operating with two full-time judges. Arnold and Daniel W. Moylan, a retired Washington County judge, are assisting part time.

The names of the nominees, chosen from among 13 candidates, were forwarded to the governor in August by the judicial nominating commission.

The finalists, each with a law practice in Westminster, are: Democrat Michael M. Galloway, 53, a finalist in 1995 for a District Court judgeship. He taught English and was a Westminster High School wrestling and football assistant coach before entering law school in 1978. He also was an intern and a prosecutor with the Carroll County state's attorney's office until 1980.

Democrat Damian L. Halstad, 37, who is president of the Westminster Common Council. He sat on the Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals for two years before being elected in 1993 to the first of his two terms on the council.

Democrat Fred S. Hecker, 39, who twice has been recognized for his work by Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr., administrative judge for the Circuit Court of Carroll County.

Hecker has settled the most cases in the 2-year-old pretrial conference program implemented by Beck.

Independent Charles M. Preston, 53, who completed his term as Maryland State Bar Association president in June.

Admitted to the Maryland bar in 1970, he was a nominee for the Circuit Court in 1989 and 1990, and for the District Court in 1990 and 1995.

Republican Thomas F. Stansfield, 49, who has served for seven years as Carroll's court-appointed domestic master. He hears divorce and custody cases, which make up the majority of the court's civil caseload, two or three times a week.

The annual salary for judges exceeds $107,000. Applicants must be a lawyer, at least 35 years old, a resident of Maryland for five years and of the county for six months.

Morrill said the governor has no deadline for filling Arnold's seat.

"It will be at least two or three weeks before a decision is made," Morrill said.

Whoever is appointed would have to run for office in the next general election, probably next year.

If Glendening delays the appointment, however, the next election could mean 2002.

Around the courthouse, the appointment is rated a toss-up.

Arnold was a popular judge. He worked for Black & Decker Corp. in Hampstead before entering law school, which he completed with honors in 1967.

He quit Black & Decker in 1975 to enter private practice in Hampstead and was appointed to the District Court in 1980.

He was named in December 1990 to replace Circuit Judge Donald J. Gilmore Sr., who had retired.

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