SALISBURY — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello has been appointed to the bench for the Wicomico County Circuit Court.
Hogan also announced Caroline County State’s Attorney Jonathan Newell has been appointed to a Circuit Court judgeship in that county. The governor made the appointments after reviewing nominees from the respective counties’ judicial nominating committees.
“After conducting a thorough vetting process, I am confident that Newell and Maciarello are the most qualified candidates to fill these vacancies,” he said. “Throughout their legal careers, they have exhibited integrity, intelligence, and a strong commitment to justice and I am honored to appoint them to the Circuit Court.”
Maciarello has served as State’s Attorney for Wicomico County since 2011. His previous experience includes working as a principal at the law firm of Hearne and Bailey. Maciarello also served as a clerk for two Worcester County Circuit Court judges including current Administrative Judge Thomas C. Groton III. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law.
The Circuit Court judge in Wicomico will preside over cases in both Wicomico and Dorchester counties and will be shared equally between the two jurisdictions. The vacancy was created with the retirement of Judge Newton Jackson III and the appointment becomes effectively immediately.
Maciarello was one of seven original applicants for the Wicomico Circuit Court vacancy, a list that was winnowed to three by the nominating committee and forwarded to Hogan for consideration. Also on the short list sent to the governor were Jeffrey Ewen Badger and Mark Andrew Tyler.
While the appointment is effective immediately, the investiture ceremony for Maciarello won’t likely come until later this month. In the meantime, he is getting up to speed on his new position in the judicial system while continuing his work as state’s attorney. He expects the transition to be a smooth one.
“I’m doing double duty and I’m still State’s Attorney for Wicomico County,” he said. “I have 17 prosecutors in a fairly medium-sized office and they are all fully involved. I’ve always included my deputies and assistant state’s attorneys in the management side of the operation and they are more than capable of stepping in.”
State’s attorneys are often tapped for judgeship appointments so there certainly is precedent. Meanwhile, Maciarello is preparing to move from the prosecution table to behind the bench. It’s a philosophical and professional adjustment he is looking forward to.
“I’m in the process of transitioning my cases to my assistant state’s attorneys and senior assistant state’s attorneys, so that should be seamless,” he said. “I’ve always really bonded with the victims in my cases, and I’m meeting with and introducing their new prosecutors and assuring them they are in good hands.”
In the meantime, Maciarello said his office will lean heavily on the vast experience of Deputy State’s Attorney Ella Disharoon.
“Ella has been there and she knows the ins and outs of the office,” he said. “I am only one person in a 40-person operation and the lifeblood of that operation is still in our office.”
Maciarello’s appointment to the Circuit Court continues his mercurial career arc from recent law school grad just a dozen years ago or so to a judgeship.
“I’ve always experienced change,” he said. “I started as a defense attorney with no prosecution experience. I try to handle things with effort and hard work and surround myself with people who know more than I do.”
While he is moving from the prosecution table to the bench, Maciarello won’t suddenly find himself presiding over cases on which he was recently prosecuting. Because of the training and learning curve, and because the seat presides over cases in both Wicomico and Dorchester, he will not suddenly find himself presiding on cases in which he is intimately connected.
“That will be done on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “It’s not unusual for a state’s attorney to become a judge. The court system naturally has safeguards and processes in place to assure there are no conflicts of interest.”