1. What would your top priorities be as a circuit judge?
Since I was sworn in as a judge of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County in January 2012, my top priority has been to perform all of my duties fairly, without any partiality, and with the utmost competence. I firmly believe in the principle of “equal justice under law” and will continue to strive to achieve that goal in my courtroom. My job is to ensure that all members of the Montgomery County community receive the protections afforded them under the law. I also strive to be patient, of good judicial temperament, to be well prepared for my cases, and well versed in the law applicable to the matters before me.
2. Why should people vote for you instead of your opponents?
I have been honored to serve the people of our State and County as a judge on the Circuit Court since January 2012. I believe my background has provided me the work ethic and perspective on life to prepare me to execute my duties competently, fairly and impartially. I am a product of the Maryland public school system, and was the first in my family to attend a four-year college and law school. I was able to attend college and law school through a merit scholarship, student loans, and a work-study job.
After clerking for a judge on the Court of Appeals of Maryland, I worked for five years as a clinical law professor at the American University Washington College of Law and as an Assistant Public Defender in Prince George’s County. I then spent 22 years working as an attorney for the people of Maryland, during which time I represented the State in criminal cases. I served as an Assistant Attorney General, Chief of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Chief of the Criminal Appeals Division, and as Solicitor General. In those capacities, I argued hundreds of cases in the appellate courts, including two cases in the United States Supreme Court.
From 2004-2011, I was in the private practice of law at the firm of Bennett & Bair. There, I represented criminal defendants, most of whom were incarcerated African-Americans and Hispanics. I worked as diligently on behalf of these clients as I had while working for the people of Maryland. All of these experiences have provided me with the necessary and invaluable preparation for my work as a Circuit Court judge.
In this election, voters will elect four Circuit Court judges. Of the candidates, four are currently judges of the Circuit Court. Each of the four “sitting” judges — myself, Judge Audrey Creighton, Judge Joan Ryon, and Judge Nelson Rupp — have submitted their credentials to the public for comment, criticism, and intense scrutiny.
Each of the four “sitting” judges was vetted in a non-partisan process, by members of the community, state, local and specialty bar associations, and leaders of civic organizations and associations. These groups included representatives from the Women’s Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Association, the Gay/Lesbian/Transgender Bar Association, among many others.
After this intense screening process, all applicants were adjudged by a Commission tasked to find those of the aspirants who were “most highly and professionally qualified.” Those lawyers deemed “most highly and professionally qualified” were forwarded to the Governor. After interviews with all of the applicants deemed “most highly and professionally qualified,” the Governor selected a judge designee for each vacancy. This rigorous process concluded with each of the four “sitting” judges being appointed to the Circuit Court.
3. What changes would you make/have your made while in office?
To the extent that I am ethically able to do so, I welcome all comments, criticism, and suggestions. I strive to instill public confidence in our Circuit Court and Maryland’s Judicial Branch of Government. I believe all Marylanders are entitled to full access to justice in our courts and I will seek to achieve such access in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. I also believe that the mental health needs of the people who appear before the Court need to be considered in the fashioning of justice in their cases.