Candidates for judge of the circuit court, 6th Judicial Curcuit, were asked the following questions by The Washington Post: Selection: What is the best way to pick judges? Crime: What can judges do to reduce crime?
Rosalyn B. Bell, 59, 9f 1205 Edgevale Rd., Silver Spring, is an associate judge of the circuit court who served as governor of the state bar association for two terms and has held other offices in local bar associations and legal education groups. In 1975 she was named Woman Lawyer of the Year by the D.C. Women's Bar Association.
Selection: Currently circuit court judges in Maryland are named only after being recommended through a complicated screening process. Each circuit has a Judicial Nominating Commission made up of voters of the circuit; six who are lay people and a chair named by the governor and six who are members of the Maryland Bar selected by the lawyers of the circuit. They seek to identify by application, writing sample, interview, personal observation and recommendations those best suited by temperament, integrity, experience and legal ability to serve. In Montgomery County five names must be submitted. The governor cannot appoint outside those recommended. The judge thereafter runs for election which can be contested. The Maryland Judicial Conference supports the current method except they favor an election in which the judges stand on their record to be retained or removed. If the judge is doing a good job, retain; if not, remove.
Crime: All members of the community have a part to play in reduction of crime. Judges are bound by certain rules and precedents laid down by the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and Maryland Rules, but they may advocate changes through appropriate channels. Judges through diligent and expeditious handling of their assignments can send a message to those who would commit crimes that they will be dealt with quickly. Judges have a serious role to play in sentencing and must consider punishment for the criminal, rehabilitation, deterrence to the criminal and general deterrence to others who may consider committing a crime. It is important for the judge to bear in mind among other factors, the crime, impact on the victim, protection to the public and the fact that the defendant will, except in a few isolated cases, come back into the community. Sentences which balance these considerations can have significant impact.
James S. McAuliffe, Jr. (Incumbent), 51, of 12416 Copenhaver Terr., Potomac, has served in both houses of the General Assembly. In Montgomery County he has been assistant state's attorney, chairman of the Ethics Commission and vice chairman of Montgomery College's Board of Trustees.
Selection: At present, candidates for appointment to the circuit court for Montgomery County are carefully considered by the Montgomery County Bar Association and the Maryland State Bar Association. Recommendations of the bar associations are forwarded to the Judicial Selection Commission which then makes an independet review, investigation and evaluation. Only those candidates found thoroughly qualified and so certified by the Commission may be appointed by the governor. The judge appointed by the governor from the list of names certified by the Judicial Selection Commission is subject to election at the next general election occurring at least one year after the jduicial vacancy. The one change needed (which has occurred in the selection of judges to the two Maryland appellate courts and would have occurred on the circuit court if the proposed Constitution of 1968 had been ratified by the voters) would result in judges running on their records rather than in contested elections.
Crime: Judges shall assure that all trials, including criminal trials, are conducted in accordance with full due process of law. Where a trial so conducted results in a cirminal conviction the judge, having the responsibility for sentencing, may and should impose sentence iwth appropriate consideration being given to community values and the protection of socety. In the sentencing process, the rehabilitation of the defendant is but one factor, albeit an important and serious one. Other equally important and serious considerations, and in some instances overriding ones, are 1) protection of society; 2) punishment (sometimes called retribution); 3) special deterrence to this defendant; and 4) general deterrence to those others in society who may be similarly cirminally inclided. It is altogether appropriate for judges who live and raise their families in a community and who serve that community in a high calling to be aware of and sensitive to the needs and values of that community.
Peter J. Messitte, 41, of 7004 Florida St., Silver Spring, is an attorney who currently serves as general counsel, vice president and director of the Community Psychiatric Clinic, Inc. A former Peace Corps volunteer, he chaired the caucus of uncommitted delegates for 1980 Democratic National Convention.
Selection: A mixed system, in which statewide appellate judges are appointed and local trial jduges elected, has virtue. Even with infrequent elections, such as Maryland has for its circuit court, campaigning has a humanizing effect on judges. A commission selection system might be better overall, but not as it presently operates in Montgomery County. Commissions should be accountable fortheir decisions, and should hold public hearings, in which candidates step forward and present their qualifications for office. The commission should state reasons why a candidate is or is not acceptable. The public and the press need to devote more attention to judicial selection.
Crime: Tougher sanctions, particularly in the case of repeat offenders, are obviously the first step. But judges must take greater pains to state the reasons for their sentences, if they hope to deter criminal conduct. These reasons should be communicated to correctional institutions, and judges should be consulted at the time a decision might be made to parole an offender to make sure their sentencing objectives are not being frustrated by the parole authority's proposed decision. Judges should not undertake to release dangerous offenders, simply to reserve prison space for more dangerous offenders yet to come. The judge's office is to determine the most appropriate sentence for the offender and for society. If present facilities are inadequate to accommodate that decision, the solution is a legislative or executive one, rather than judicial.
William C. Miller (Incumbent), 52, 13237 Clifton Rd., Silver Spring, has served as attorney for the Montgomery County delegation to the General Assembly and was elected to the sixth circuit's first Trial Court Judicial Selections Commission. He has served on executive, legislative and other committees of state and local bar associations.
Selection: Under our present system, the selection of judges involves two parts: 1) What should the governor consider in his appointment of judges? and 2) What should the electorate consider in voting for judicial candidates? 1) The governor has by Executive Order bound himself to appoint judges from a list of those found most fully professionally qualified by an independent Judicial Nominating Commission composed of lawyers and non-lawyers who interview and screen judicial candidates and consider recommendations of bar associations, civic groups and individuals. 2) The voter should consider that a sitting judge has been found qualified by the commission and should be given favorable consideration if he has by his judicial service demonstrated his ability to fairly interpret the law and administer justice. In summary, those found qualified should be picked over those who have not and those who are good judges should be picked over those who are unproves.
Crime: There is, of course, no simple solution to the crime problem. Judges, who live and raise their families in this community, are just as interested in reducing crime as other citizens. Judges do have an obligation to insure that all criminal trials are conducted with due process of law and that constitutional guarantees are assured to all parties. Once a defendant has been convicted either by jury or the court, it is the judge's responsibility to sentence that defendant. In imposing sentence, a judge should consider 1) the rehabilitation of the defendant; 2) punishment; and 3) the deterrent effect of that sentence. A judge sensitive to the community can impact upon the crime problem in sentencing by seeing that those who are capable of rehabilitation are rehabilitated and those who are not are punished as a deterrent to their further criminal activity and as a deterrent to others similarly inclined.
Irma S. Baker (Incumbent), 44, of 7908 Robison Rd., Bethesda, has served on various advisory committees and task forces on child abuse, battered wives, environmental protection and sex-related offenses. She has held office in the state bar association and is active in Girl Scouts and the county's crisis center.
Selection: I support the provisions of the current Maryland procedure by which circuit court judges are appointed by the governor, after having been found most fully qualified by a highly respected Judicial Nomination Commission. Presently, in Montqomery County, the appointed circuit court judges facing the electorate have on two or more occasions each received the endorsements of the state and county bar associations, judicial nominating commissions and the governor. Although it is not a specific requirement that a circuit court judge first serve on the district court, the exposure gives the bar and the public an opportunity to assess the qualifications of the judge. Former district court judges bring to the circuit court the necessary experience and skills, knowledge of the law and demonstrated judicial temperament. When those judges have the endorsement and confidence of the legal profession and those members of the general public before whom they have already served while on the district and circuit courts, they should be retained.
Crime: The primary impact judges can have in reducing crime is in the sentencing of those persons convicted of serious offenses and repeat offenders/career criminals. While each case must be decided on its individual merits, those persons committing these offenses should be sentenced to lengthy periods of incarceration for the protection of society and to beter others. Since practically all will sometime return to the community, rehabilitative opportunities, while not always successful, should be made available to those willing to avail themselves of these benefits. Trials must be conducted in accordance with the constitutional standards of due process and equal protection, and unnecessary delays in the trial process must be eliminated. The judge must strive to ensure swift and certain justice. It is important that judges review from the bench at the time sentence is imposed the reasons and purpose of the particular sentence in the expectation that such disclosure will provide specific and general deterrence of similar conduct.