Area Attorney In Running For High Court Seat

BERLIN – Local attorney Joe Moore is back among the candidates seeking appointment to a seat on Maryland’s highest court this week after the state’s judicial nominating committee forwarded the names of all three applicants for the position to the governor for final approval.

Moore in December officially filed an application to replace Judge Dale Cathell as the Maryland Court of Appeals judge for the state’s First Appellate Circuit, which includes the nine counties of the Eastern Shore. Cathell officially retired last July having reached the mandatory retirement age of 70, but continues to sit on the bench pending the appointment of his replacement.

Moore, 65, was joined on the short list of applicants by sitting Court of Special Appeals Judge Sally Denison Adkins and Easton attorney Christopher Burlee Kehoe. Each of the three candidates were interviewed by Judicial Nominating Committee members in January, but the committee initially forwarded just one name, Adkins, to the governor for the Court of Appeals seat.

However, it appears the governor instructed the judicial nominating committee to go back to the interview table and submit at least two names and possibly three for final approval. In his executive order creating judicial nominating commissions, O’Malley clearly states the panel, “should endeavor to recommend at least three qualifying candidates for each seat,” but the order does not mandate the nominating commission to forward more than one candidate for consideration.

When the nominating committee sent just Adkins’ name to the governor for approval, it appears O’Malley was not satisfied with the one-person recommendation and instructed the panel to re-interview the candidates. Those interviews were conducted this week and the committee forwarded all three names, including Moore, to the governor for final approval.

Although rare, there is precedent for the nominating committee to submit just one name to the governor for a judicial appointment. More often than not, the committee must choose which names to forward to the governor from a list of several candidates.

For example, in another recent appointment process to replace a retiring Court of Special Appeals judge 29 candidates applied for the seat and the nominating committee forwarded eight names to the governor for the appointment.

Moore said yesterday he was pleased to be on the short list for nomination to Cathell’s vacated seat on the Court of Appeals bench and said it was now up to the governor to decide.

“The governor will conduct his own interviews and ultimately decide who among the three candidates should be appointed to the seat,” he said. “I’m just happy to be among the three still in consideration.”