Ten apply for Harford Circuit Court judge vacancy

Ten lawyers, including the county's state's attorney and a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, have applied for a vacancy on the Harford County Circuit Court.

The 10 applicants to replace recently retired Judge Emory A. Plitt Jr. are:

• Joseph Ignatius Cassilly, Harford County State's Attorney since 1983;

• Michael Gerard Comeau, a senor assistant attorney in the Harford County Law Department and a former state delegate;

• Yolanda Lauranzon Curtin, a state administrative law judge and former Harford prosecutor;

• Michael Hugh Andrew Daney, associate zoning hearing examiner for Harford County;

• Howard Wayne Norman Jr., a member of the House of Delegates representing Northern Harford;

• Steven J. Scheinin, a lawyer in private practice and previous judge applicant and candidate;

• District Court Judge Victor Kuras Butanis, a district judge since 1996;

• Melissa Lazarich Lambert, chief legal counsel to the Harford County Council and a former assistant state's attorney;

• Kerwin Anthony Miller Sr., deputy state's attorney for Cecil County;

• Diane Adkins Tobin, deputy state's attorney for Harford County.

Butanis, Lambert, Miller and Tobin were finalists for the last Circuit Court judge vacancy in late 2011 that went to Judge M. Elizabeth Bowen. Because Plitt's retirement occurred within 24 months of their earlier consideration, the four were automatically put back into the pool for the latest vacancy.

Plitt reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 in February. Harford has five Circuit Court judges.

Cassilly and Daney applied for the previous judicial vacancy but were not among the finalists chosen by Harford County's Trial Courts Judicial Nominating Commission. The 13-member commission screens candidates and selects up to five finalists. The final selection is then made by the governor.

Circuit Court judges serve 15 year terms and are required to stand for election to a full term following their appointment by the governor. A circuit judge can be challenged in an election by any member of the Maryland bar residing in Harford County.

Scheinin has run unsuccessfully in several previous judicial elections, including in 2012 when he finished well behind Bowen and another candidate in both Democratic and Republican primaries, thus ensuring Bowen's election to a full 15-year term.

According to the mdcourts.gov website, the next meeting of Harford's Trial Courts Judicial Nominating Commission is scheduled for April 18.

The Harford nominating commission, which has at least two vacancies, is chaired by Laura V. Bearsch. By law, nine commission members are appointed by the governor and four are selected by the county's bar association.

Harford also has a District Court judge vacancy with the March 1 retirement of Judge John Dunnigan.

District Court judges are also appointed by the governor but serve 10-year terms are and not required to stand for election. Nominations for these judgeships are also made by the county's Trial Courts Nominating Commission.

The deadline to apply to the commission for the District Court vacancy is this Monday, March 25. Harford has four District Court judges.

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