For continuance in Office (Yes or No): James R. Couch Jr.; Rosalyn B. Bell; James S. Getty; John J. Garrity; Theodore G. Bloom QUESTION: Just as conservatives during the Warren era of the Supreme Court complained of judicial activism, accusing the court of legislating from the bench, liberals today are contending that the Burger court is reaching beyond judging the cases before it in an effort to influence policy. It is a pattern of judicial action that some contend is trickling down to lower courts. In your view, does the role of the bench allow it to reach beyond the narrow confines and unique facts of the individual case before it and make judgments that apply beyond it? COURT OF APPEALS, 4th APPELLATE JUDICIAL CIRCUIT (includingCalvert, Charles and Prince George's counties) James F. Couch Jr.
Incumbent 10105 Towhee Ave., Adelphi Age: 67 LLB from American University, 1941; in private practice in Brentwood-Mount Rainier, Maryland, 1950-1971; associate judge, District Court of Maryland, 1971-1972; associate judge, Circuit Court for Prince George's County, 1972-77; associate judge, Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, 1977-1982; associate judge, Court of Appeals of Maryland since 1982; fellow, Maryland Bar Foundation; member, Commission to Study the Judicial Branch of Government, 1980; member of county and state bar asssociations.
It is fundamental that the power of the judiciary, whether at trial or appellate level, is limited by the Constitution and our system of separate, co-equal branches of gevernment. Thus, trial judges should take the law as they find it and apply it to the facts of the particular case before them. Appellate judges are likewise bound by the law as written by the legislature, or previously determined by the court. Where there is no controlling statute or precedent, the common law should be examined. I am not disposed to lightly abrogate the common law, those principles derived from accepted and time-worn custom and practice. If a change is to be made, it is best made by the legislature -- the body most responsive to the people. However, given that the common law is judge-made law, there may be times when it is appropriate for the court to alter or modify it. COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS At Large Rosalyn B. Bell
Incumbent 1205 Edgevale Rd., Silver Spring Age: 61 Received JD (with honors), 1951, National University (merged with George Washington University); maintained private general law practice, 1951-78; judge, District Court of Maryland, 6th District, Montgomery County, 1978-80; judge, 6th Judicial Circuit, 1980-83; appointed to Court of Special Appeals in 1983; two-term governor of Maryland Bar Association; member of state, county and D.C. bar associations; active in continuing legal education; has received several professional achievement awards.
A judge must consider the case presented, interpret the law and make a decision. At the trial level that is relatively clear. Generally, the result will affect only the litigants, because other judges at that same level are free to follow that ruling or not. At the appellate level the problem is more complex. The function of the appellate court is to see that justice is done in accordance with the law, to see that it is administered uniformly and to express the developing body of law. Since the decisions at that level provide precedent to be followed in other cases, those opinions clearly impact beyond the individual litigant. The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland is an intermediate appellate court and the decisions of that court must follow the precedents as delineated by the Court of Appeals of Maryland and the Supreme Court. COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS, 3RD APPELLATE JUDICIAL CIRCUIT (including Frederick and Montgomery counties) James S. Getty
Incumbent 638 Washington St., Cumberland Age: 63 Assistant state's attorney, Allegany County, 1953-58; state's attorney, Allegany County 1958-65; associate judge, Fourth Circuit Court, 1965-83; associate judge, Court of Special Appeals, Third Appellate Circuit, 1983-Present; graduate of University of Maryland Law School; member, Maryland State Bar Association.
Since the decision of the Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison, decided in 1803, concededly, it is the duty of the judiciary to interpret the law. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes said that the Constitution of the United States is "what the Supreme Court says it is." Judicial activism needs no further encouragement. I subscribe to the logic espoused by Justice Black who said: "Our duty is simply to interpret the Constitution, in doing so the test of constitutionality is not whether a law is offensive to our conscience or to the common law, but whether it is offensive to the Constitution." Under our system of government, it is not the function of the judiciary to legislate. Society is ill served by the substitution of personal philosophy for established law. Case-by-case analysis, based on precedent, ensures judicial restraint, thus avoiding judicial voice being that of power, not of reason. COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS, 4TH APPELLATE JUDICIAL CIRCUIT (including Calvert, Charles and Prince George's counties) John J. Garrity
Incumbent 3801 Calverton Dr., University Park Age: 50 Attended National Naval Medical School, received BA in journalism, 1961, JD, 1963, both from American University; member of Supreme Court, Maryland and D.C. bars; assistant state's attorney, Prince George's County, 1965-67; assistant attorney general for Maryland, 1967-70; Prince George's County commissioner, 1970; county councilman, 1971-74; Maryland House of Delegates, 1974-76, state Senate, 1976-82; associate judge, Court of Special Appeals since 1982; author of two books.
In my view, the role of an appellate court does not allow it to make judgments beyond the scope of the legal problem it is examining at the time. An appellate tribunal is not a legislative body. If it were, our society would be constantly subject to the turmoil of judicial whims and mandates rather than governed by known standards of acceptable conduct. As an appellate judge who must interpret legislative enactments and apply long-standing common law principles and doctrines to resolve the ntanglements of daily life, I am vigilantly sensitive to the thoughts I use to underpin rationale. As I have employed the thoughts, experiences and practical solutions of the past as they have been expressed by other jurists, I am mindful that my thoughts may also be used as a vehicle for change. Such refinement in legal thought when used in solving a similar problem would be tested by logic and either cast aside or nourished by the strength of its application to the changing needs of our society. COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS, 5TH APPELLATE JUDICIAL CIRCUIT (including Anne Arundel and Howard Counties) Theodore G. Bloom
Incumbent 312 Halsey Rd., Annapolis Age: 58 Received BA, University of Maryland, 1950, JD, 1953; engaged in general practice of law in Annapolis, 1954-83; appointed by Gov. Harry Hughes to Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, 1983; has been member of board of governors of Maryland State Bar Association and president of Anne Arundel County Bar Association; also served on first Anne Arundel County Charter Revision Commission and Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland.
Judicial activism in the Supreme Court and, to some extent, in the highest state appellate courts is a form of policymaking that lies more in the selection of the cases it will hear than in making pronouncements of law broader than that necessary to decide a particular case on its facts. Lower courts, having no policymaking functions, should keep their decisions within the narrow confines of the facts of the case if possible. It is sometimes necessary to make broad pronouncements of legal principles on issues not previously decided, but that does not often occur.