We Elect Judges? What's Up With That?
The primary election here in Maryland is on April 26th, in just six weeks. Early voting begins a month from tomorrow. In Baltimore City, in addition to selecting nominees for the US Senate and the Presidency, and choosing from a dizzying array of candidates for Mayor and the City Council, Republicans and Democrats will also be choosing Circuit Court Judges. Other jurisdictions will choose Judges as well. If you’re in Baltimore County, for example, there are 18 Judges in that Circuit, two of whom are on the ballot, listed as “unopposed.” In Anne Arundel County, you’ll be asked to pick four people from a list of seven candidates. Here in Baltimore, we’ve got a pool of eight people running for six spots. The people who currently hold those six spots are not identified on the ballot as “sitting judges.” Outside the world of the law, neither their names, nor their judicial records are well known to most people. Later in the program, I’ll talk to the two men who are running for a position on the Circuit Court in Baltimore City, who got on the ballot in a very different way than those six sitting judges.
But first, a conversation with a legal scholar about why it is that we the people are tasked with the job of choosing Judges, and whether or not that’s a good idea. Mortimer Sellers is the Director of the Center for International and Comparative Law at the University of Baltimore, and a Regents Professor in the University System of MD.