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March 16, 2010

Vallario shows his hand on electing judges

A package of sex offender legislation was delayed on day in House floor at the request of Republican Leader Tony O’Donnell – but that didn’t prevent delegates from starting to debate the issue which, curiously, led to a revelation about the probable fate of Attorney General Doug Gansler’s bid to curtail competitive elections for circuit court judges.

In the floor exchange this morning, one delegate worried that the language in a proposed sex offender bill allowed judges too much discretion over sentencing and supervision.

House Judiciary Chairman Joseph F. Vallario shot back.

“Judges will be responsible for their decisions,” Vallario hollered on the floor. “That is why we elect them. We have elected them for the last 200 years and hopefully we will continue.”

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has not yet voted on the measure, SB 833. The House version, HB 1385, also not had a committee vote.
Posted by Annie Linskey at 12:36 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: General Assembly 2010


Everyone has known for years that Vallario's agenda is voting the interest of the defense bar to the exlusion of the interests of the citizens of Maryland. Why would anyone expect that to change?

I don't often agree with Vallario, but if he does in fact support continued election of trial court judges then I approve of his position on the issue. The more directly accountable the judiciary are to We the People, the better it is for our democratic republic. It is a phony argument to suggest that appointment of judges is not a political process, since appointment of judges by a governor and confirmation of their appointment by a state senate are about as political as a process can be. It's also faulty thinking that the issue of electing judges should be unpopular because Joe Vallario is thought to be unpopular -- electing of judges should not suffer from guilt-by-association.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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