Circuit Court Chief Judge Ronald A. Silkworth will retire at the end of August, opening up another vacant position on the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.
Silkworth will retire Aug. 27, the same day he turns 70 and reaches mandatory retirement age for judges. Vacancies are typically posted online the morning after retirement. The names of applicants will be listed on the Maryland Judiciary website.
Following retirement, Silkworth said he hopes to work as a senior judge — filling in for other judges — and/or doing mediation and other types of work.
“Then I have a whole bunch of grandchildren that I’m sure will occupy a third or much more of my time," Silkworth said. “There will be lots of things to do in retirement.”
A judicial vacancy sets off a series of events. First, the state collects applications. Then the Judicial Nominating Commission meets and interviews all candidates. The governor is then given a list of nominees of which he selects one for the appointment. Judges appointed to elected positions then run in the next election.
Maryland Policy & Politics
Previous judicial vacancies in Anne Arundel County have lead to calls for greater diversity. Anne Arundel County Circuit Court bench is majority white and the county didn’t seat a black woman judge until 2018 when Gov. Larry Hogan appointed Judge Elizabeth Sheree Morris to the Circuit Court bench. She is only the third black judge in the court’s history.
In 2016, Claudia Barber, an administrative law judge in Washington D.C., made history by making it onto the Circuit Court general election ballot, but was defeated by a slate of Republican judges who were all white. Hogan then filled another vacancy with a white male judge, prompting the NAACP to call on Hogan to appoint a person of color.
Silkworth grew up in Brooklyn Park on Brookwood Road. He ran his own law practice for 20 years and took a seat on the bench in 1996 after an appointment by former Gov. Parris Glendening. Throughout his career, Silkworth has served on a variety of committees, including those in family and criminal law, and mental health and addiction.
The community has been celebrating Silkworth’s pending retirement. In June, the Arundel Neighborhoods Association honored Silkworth for his work with the organization. The association has partnered community service workers with people in need. Former Sen. Phil Jimeno, Del. Ned Carey, D-Brooklyn Park, and attorney Kim Burns were also in attendance to watch the judge receive his honor. Burns ran for County Council District 1 in 2018 but lost the general election to Sarah Lacey.
Carey said he has worked with Silkworth for about a decade, particularly on truancy issues.
“He is a person that will be missed (on the bench)," Carey said. “He was passionate about helping young people.”
Freelance writer Heather Vecchioni contributed to this report.