Keep Our Judges: Team of Four Sitting Circuit Court Judges Vie to Remain On the Bench Despite Election Challengers
Judge Elizabeth Sheree Morris, the first African American woman to ever hold a seat on the circuit court bench in Anne Arundel County, was appointed by Governor Larry Hogan in the fall of 2018, along with Judges Robert Jeffrey Thompson and Pamela Knoop Alban. The appointments of Judges Morris, Thompson and Alban were subsequent to the retirements of Judge Paul F. Harris, Jr., Judge Paul Goetzke, and Judge Michele Jaklitsch. The governor made the appointments after interviewing nominees sent by the judicial nominating commission. “The appointment of qualified individuals to serve across our state’s justice system is paramount to upholding our responsibilities to the people of Maryland and the rule of law,” said Governor Hogan. “I have confidence that Ms. Alban, Ms. Morris, and Mr. Thompson will all be strong advocates for the law and will serve the citizens of Anne Arundel County admirably.”
About a year later, Judge Richard Robert Trunnell joined the roster of Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judges. The appointment of Judge Trunnell by Governor Hogan was announced on December 9, 2019, following the retirement of Judge Ronald Silkworth.
After an initial appointment by the Governor, the Maryland Constitution requires appointed judges to run for election to retain their positions. The four judges have since joined forces to do just that, under the campaign name "Keep Our Judges."
According to the judges, their campaign has received bipartisan endorsements from Democratic and Republican elected officials across Anne Arundel County, including Governor Hogan. "I am humbled to say that elected officials across our county – both Democrat and Republican – have endorsed us,' Judge Pamela Alban said. "They put politics aside and recognize the benefits of the vetting process and the vast experience we bring to the bench." Judge Morris described the process as rigorous and thorough. "It was designed to test an applicant’s personal and professional experiences, knowledge, legal expertise, character, and judicial temperament."
Alban, who was an Anne Arundel County prosecutor for 22 years, acknowledges the value that each of the candidates brings to the bench. "They have all undergone the same process I have and I fully endorse them," she said. "We have varied backgrounds – both personally and professionally –which brings a balance to the bench that benefits the citizens of this county."
Judge Robert Thompson supports the state law which gives voters the opportunity to weigh in on who should serve on the court. "I think one of the best things about this country is that the people have an opportunity to choose the people who serves them in government." Judge Thompson says he also understands that most people do not encounter judges or the courts very often, and as a result, may not be comfortable voting in judicial elections.
Judge Trunnell certainly did not mince words with regards to the candidates challenging the foursome. "There are two candidates running against us who are not judges," he said. "They also went before the bipartisan Judicial Nominating Commission but were not found to be qualified by the Commission." Former Anne Arundel County State's Prosecutor Wes Adams and Longtime Attorney Annette DeCesaris could disrupt the slate of sitting judges should either of them be successful in next month's primary.
To learn more about the slate of four judges and their campaign, visit:
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