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Citing lack of diversity among candidates, Hogan re-advertises vacancy for Maryland’s highest court

Gov. Larry Hogan has extended the period for people to apply to an upcoming vacancy on Maryland’s highest court, citing a need for more diverse candidates after six of the initial seven applicants were men and all appeared to white.

In the vacancy listing for Judge Robert McDonald’s seat on the Court of Appeals, the governor wrote that he has extended the deadline to apply for McDonald’s seat on the state’s highest court until Nov. 18 “in order to attract as broad a field of candidates as possible consistent with his commitment to diversity and outreach.”

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The vacancy was initially posted online on Sept. 22, with a closing date of Oct. 19, according to Judiciary spokeswoman Terri Charles.

The appointment is to replace Judge McDonald, who is the representative for Baltimore and Harford counties for the court’s Second Appellate Circuit. McDonald is will turn 70, the date when Maryland law requires state judges to step down from the bench.

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Whenever there are present or imminent vacancies, the governor will post listings online in search of applicants who will then be reviewed by the Appellate Courts Judicial Nominating Commission, an appointed team tasked with vetting the candidates. The commission then makes a recommendation to the governor, who will then choose who to appoint to the seat afterward.

Those seven applicants so far included two Court of Special Appeals Judges, Daniel Friedman and Douglas Nazarian, as well as Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Robinson Jr. and criminal defense attorney Julie Reamy.

The judicial nominating process and Gov. Hogan have been criticized in the past for a lack of people of color appointed to the state’s judicial benches.

Following the appointment of Mark Crooks to fill the newly created 13th seat on Anne Arundel’s Circuit Court bench in 2017, maintaining an all-white pool of judges, protesters marched to the county courthouse to protest the lack of diversity among the county’s judges.

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