Maryland Circuit Court Elections a ‘Muddled System,’ Editorial Says

Maryland’s process for electing Circuit Court judges, which has repeatedly been targeted for reform, is “a muddled system whose pretense at nonpartisanship fools no one,” a CapitalGazette.com editorial said.

As Exhibit A for its argument, the editorial said the Republican Central Committee invited to a local primary election forum “only GOP candidates for the four Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judgeships at stake in this year’s election,” although the elections were nonpartisan, with the names of both Democrats and Republicans appearing on the same ballots.

Moreover, the editorial said, “Is there a Democratic approach to the rules of evidence? A Republican strategy for giving instructions to juries? Since the sitting judges can’t talk about specific cases, they are forced to campaign on their experience and endorsements, and keep their rhetoric to bland generalities.”

Justice at Stake testified before the Maryland legislature this year in support of efforts to end the election of Circuit Court judges, and it recommended a series of steps to ensure the impartiality and fairness of these courts (see Gavel Grab).