Today marks the end of an era as Howard County Circuit Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. retires after 23 years on the bench and chief judge since last year.
"I just thought it was time to do it," said Kane, 66, adding that he wants to travel and spend more time with his grandchildren.
But Kane won't be absent from the courthouse. He will come back on a regular basis as a settlement conference judge. Other retired judges - including Howard Circuit Court Judge James B. Dudley, who retired in January - will step in to help oversee cases, said Judge Diane O. Leasure, the county's administrative circuit judge.
"[The docket] will be covered," Leasure said. "I haven't canceled anything, and I certainly don't intend to."
Eight finalists have been named as candidates to fill Kane's spot, including Howard Master Elaine Patrick and lawyers Richard Bruce Rosenblatt and Jonathan Scott Smith.
Five others are finalists for Kane's and Dudley's positions. They are District Court Judge Louis A. Becker; Richard S. Bernhardt, an assistant attorney general; Carol A. Hanson, district public defender for Howard and Carroll counties; Mary V. Murphy, a Howard County senior assistant state's attorney; and Paul M. Vettori, a litigation attorney.
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. will make the appointments at a time of his choosing, and the new judges must run for election in 2006 for a 15-year term.