3 more nominated for Sfekas court vacancy


Three nominees, including two from the public sector, have been added to a short list of candidates forwarded to Gov. Parris N. Glendening for the Howard District Court vacancy created by the June 28 death of Judge C. James "Kit" Sfekas.

The three - a Howard assistant state's attorney, an assistant attorney general and a Columbia-based private practice lawyer - join a pool of four candidates who were interviewed by the governor for another judicial vacancy this year and are considered finalists for the current opening.

Members of the Trial Courts Judicial Nominating Commission for Howard County picked the three from among 11 applicants after a series of interviews Monday.

"I think they would be a credit to the bench ... in terms of intelligence, in terms of fairness," commission Chairwoman Ann M. Balcerzak said of the three new finalists and four pool candidates. The seven nominees include five women and two men, one of whom is black. Of the seven, six have spent time working in the public sector. Only one has spent her entire career in private practice.

It was unclear yesterday when Glendening would make his appointment to the five-judge Howard District Court bench.

The three new candidates nominated by the commission are:

Richard S. Bernhardt, 44, an assistant attorney general in that state office's insurance fraud unit. Bernhardt, who has lived in the county for nearly 17 years and is on the local school boundary lines advisory committee, spent more than 13 years as an assistant public defender in Howard County.

Sue-Ellen Hantman, 57, an assistant Howard County state's attorney for 17 of the past 22 years, is the prosecutor assigned to the office's HotSpot program. Hantman, a Howard County resident for 29 years, is also president of the Howard County bar.

Mary C. Reese, 40, a lawyer with the Columbia firm of Reese and Carney, does criminal defense, civil litigation, administrative law and trusts and estates work. Reese, a Howard County native who spent more than six years as an assistant state's attorney in the county, is president-elect of the Howard County bar.

The three join Wayne A. Brooks, a state administrative law judge; Mary V. Murphy, a senior assistant Howard County state's attorney; Elaine Patrick, a master in chancery who has heard child-support cases in the county since 1995; and Deborah L. Robinson, a partner in Baltimore-based Robinson Woolson P.A. and a member of the University of Maryland School of Law's adjunct faculty, as finalists for the job.

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