Mayor's wife is among those recommended by commission for District Court judgeship; Eight names submitted governor by city panel


Catherine Curran O'Malley, the wife of Baltimore's mayor and daughter of the state attorney general, was one of eight people recommended to Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday for appointment to a judgeship in the city's District Court.

O'Malley was tapped by the city's Judicial Nominating Commission, made up of seven lawyers and six lay people, after the commission met Tuesday. Her name, along with seven others, was presented to Glendening yesterday for him to make a selection to fill the $101,800-a-year post.

The vacancy on Baltimore's lowest -- and busiest -- court was created when Judge Audrey J. Carrion was appointed to the Circuit Court last fall. District Court judges serve 10-year terms and must be reconfirmed by the state Senate every decade.

Other names submitted include Deputy Public Defender Ronald A. Karasic and Baltimore lawyer Stephen J. Sfekas. The governor also can choose from a four-member pool of lawyers who have already been recommended by the judicial commission.

Kenneth L. Thompson, commission chairman, said politics had nothing to do with the decision to approve O'Malley for consideration. She has been a prosecutor at the Baltimore County state's attorney's office for nearly a decade and is now chief of the white-collar/economic crimes unit.

"She got it on her own merits," Thompson said. "From opposing counsel to the judges that she has appeared before, they all have exemplary things to say about her."

He said that when O'Malley applied for a judgeship in 1998, commission members told her she was a little "green" and to come back in two years.

"She did," Thompson said.

Thompson added: "She is easygoing. She's very compassionate. That's the kind of person you want in the District Court."

O'Malley, 37, began seeking the bench in 1996, when she applied to be a court master with the goal of becoming a district judge. In July 1998, she applied to be a district judge. In December, O'Malley, the daughter of state Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., put her name in the hat again.

O'Malley said yesterday that she believes her work as a prosecutor suits her for the post because she has experience dealing with the public. The District Court, where traffic tickets and minor criminal cases are handled, is often the only contact most people have with the system.

"It would be a great honor," O'Malley said.

Glendening spokeswoman Michelle Byrnie said it would likely be at least two months before the governor made the appointment. She said he does not like to appoint judges in the middle of the legislative session because he does not have the time to conduct thorough interviews with the candidates.

"He likes to focus his full attention on putting his energy towards bills that the administration has sponsored," Byrnie said.

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