Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) this week appointed four people to serve as Circuit Court judges in Prince George’s County.
Three of the appointees have been serving as District Court judges.
The new Circuit Court judges are former District Court judges Krystal Q. Alves, Daneeka Varner Cotton, and Hassan A. El-Amin.
The governor also appointed John Paul Davey, an attorney who has practiced in Prince George’s for more than two decades, to the Circuit Court bench.
Alves was named to the District Court bench in 2005. She previously worked as an assistant state’s attorney in Prince George’s and also in the county’s Office of Law, which defends the county against civil lawsuits.
Cotton was appointed to the District Court bench in 2006. In the 1990s, she worked as an assistant state’s attorney in Prince George’s for several years, until she was appointed to the position of master in the family division of Circuit Court, a post she held until she was named to the District Court. She is the chairperson of the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council in Prince George’s County.
El-Amin was appointed to the District Court in 2000, becoming the first Muslim named to the bench in Maryland. In March 2009, El-Amin landed in controversy when he released an 18-year-old man charged with murder to the custody of the defendant’s mother. A spokesman for then-State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey criticized the judge’s decision. Murder defendants in Prince George’s are rarely released on bond, and when they are, it is often for a high amount, generally no less than $500,000.
In an interview with The Washington Post, El-Amin defended his decision, saying the defendant, Sean Sykes, was entitled to the presumption of innocence and that he did not consider him a danger to the community or a flight risk.
“Our whole bond system is problematical,” El-Amin said then. “It’s barely constitutional.”
Sykes eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the stabbing of a man in Oxon Hill.
Davey has worked in private practice in Prince George’s for 21 years, officials said. From 1991 to 2003, Davey served as the county’s representative to the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority.
Davey also worked as the county’s chief administrative officer from 1987 to 1991.