Five Nominated to Maryland Court of Appeals

By Chris Mincher

A little more than a month after nine applied for Judge Battaglia’s seat on the Court of Appeals, the pool has been whittled to five nominations. Unsurprisingly, the only sitting Court of Special Appeals judge, the Hon. Kathryn Grill Graeff, got a golden ticket, as did the Hon. Donald E. Beachley of the Washington County Circuit Court, a former magistrate judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Two private practitioners are in the mix as well: Thomas Edward Lynch, III, a principal at Miles & Stockbridge, and Andrew David Levy, a partner at Brown Goldstein Levy and co-author of Appellate Practice for the Maryland Lawyer.

The most notable contender, however, has to be Joseph Michael Getty, the chief legislative officer for Gov. Hogan and a previous minority whip for the Republicans in the state Senate. As those who follow our editor-in-chief’s Twitter feed (it’s just over there on the right of the page) already know, there is precedent for a governor’s current legislative officer to get his boss’ nod for a spot on the state’s high court: In 1974, Judge Eldridge joined the Court after serving in that role for Gov. Mandel. That appointment didn’t exactly go over well with all of the other jurists; Judge Barnes, calling the move “political” and labeling Judge Eldridge “a real crony,” resigned in protest and immediately launched a campaign to challenge Mandel in the gubernatorial election. (He lost in the primary.)

Mr. Getty is 64 years old, so, even if he gets the job, he wouldn’t (assuming the mandatory retirement age doesn’t go away) be able to hold it for too long. In the meantime, Gov. Hogan has to finish up a number of other Court of Special Appeals appointments on his plate: Three candidates are still waiting for a selection to the Prince George’s County seat, and 13 others — including Judge Beachley and Mr. Lynch — have been biding their time since December for an announcement on who will fill the at-large position.

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