THERE ARE five candidates on the Nov. 3 ballot in Montgomery County for four seats on the Circuit Court. Four candidates are sitting judges who went through a rigorous vetting process. They completed a detailed application and then were interviewed and evaluated by up to 14 bar associations, investigated by a nominating commission, put on a list of qualified candidates and selected for appointment by the governor. In contrast, all the upstart challenger had to do was meet age and residency requirements, be a lawyer in good standing and pay $50 to get on the ballot.

At stake are 15-year terms on a court that handles serious criminal, major civil, and juvenile and family law cases. Those who serve on this court impact lives. Selection should be based on experience, temperament and legal ability, not political popularity or messaging. We urge voters to pay close attention and keep in office the sitting judges who have undergone scrutiny and served honorably.

In Montgomery County, the four judges whom voters should keep on the bench are: Bibi M. Berry, David A. Boynton, Christopher C. Fogleman and Michael Joseph McAuliffe. Judge Boynton is the court’s most senior member, having been appointed in 2003, while Judges Berry, Fogleman and McAuliffe were appointed last year by Gov. Larry Hogan (R). Seeking to unseat one of them is Rockville attorney Marylin Pierre. Ms. Pierre applied for 14 judicial vacancies in Montgomery County between 2012 and 2017, and her applications were reviewed by nominating commissions appointed by Mr. Hogan and then-Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). She failed repeatedly to make the list of qualified candidates, and we, too, question whether she has the experience or temperament required of a judge.

In Prince George’s County, one sitting judge, Bryon Bereano, withdrew from the general election race. Voters there will now choose five judges from six candidates. We urge them to vote for the sitting judges — Wytonja Curry, Cathy Serrette, ShaRon M. Grayson Kelsey and Jared McCarthy. We also think Gladys Weatherspoon, a criminal defense attorney for more than 25 years, would be a welcome addition to the court.

These contested elections, also taking place in Howard, Carroll and Charles counties, pitting vetted judges against those who have bypassed scrutiny, underscore the need for the General Assembly to change the election requirement for Circuit Court judges. No other judgeships in the state operate this way, not on district courts, not on the state’s two appeals courts. It makes no sense that Circuit Court candidates are supposedly “nonpartisan” but cross-file to run in both the Democratic and Republican primaries, denying independent voters any say. Equally troubling is that the current system results in judges raising campaign funds from the very same lawyers who appear before them in court.

“It’s time to take politics away from a place it does not belong,” said Sen. Delores Kelly (D-Baltimore County), sponsor of legislation seeking to change the state constitution so that circuit judges would run in retention elections. We couldn’t agree more.

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