Hogan coming to Cecil for judicial candidate interviews
— Four finalists vying for two open Cecil County judgeships will enjoy a homefield advantage of sorts next month when Gov. Larry Hogan comes to Elkton to meet them individually — deviating from the practice of conducting those judicial candidate interviews at the State House in Annapolis.
“This will save them a trip to Annapolis,” Hogan told the Cecil Whig last week in Ocean City, where the governor served as the keynote speaker on the final day of the Maryland State’s Attorneys Association’s three-day convention.
Hogan explained that, whenever possible, he wants to conduct judicial interviews and other types of gubernatorial business in the counties that he is visiting as part of
his schedule, allowing him to multi-task to increase productivity.
The governor noted that, for example, he had conducted judicial interviews for a vacant judgeship in Wicomico County earlier this month while touring that county, commenting, “Our schedule has been so crazy busy.” The governor conducted those interviews on June 21.
Hogan is scheduled to be in Cecil County next week, reportedly, in part, for a fundraiser benefiting his campaign for re-election in 2018.
Matt Barrett, who is Cecil County Circuit Court administrator, reported that Hogan is scheduled to interview the four judicial candidates on July 6 in Elkton.
“As far as I’m aware, a governor has never come to the county to conduct (judicial candidate) interviews. Historically, they are done at the governor’s office in Annapolis,” Barrett said.
Hogan is scheduled to interview Elkton-based lawyers Clara Campbell, William W. Davis Jr. and Edwin B. Fockler IV for a Cecil County District Court judgeship that opened when Stephen J. Baker retired in September. Those three attorneys had made the “short list” sent to the governor, after they and other applicants went through an involved nominating process.
The governor also is scheduled to interview Davis and Fockler — they had applied for both judgeships — and now-beleaguered Cecil County State’s Attorney Edward D.E. “Ellis” Rollins III, all of whom made the short list for an open Cecil County Circuit Court judgeship after going through the same nominating process. They are seeking a judgeship vacated by V. Michael Whelan, who retired in January.
Rollins was arrested about 4 p.m. June 22 — roughly four hours after the convention had ended — at the beachfront Clarion Resort Fountainebleau Hotel where he and his wife, Holly, had been staying as guests.
On Monday, the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office charged Rollins with two counts each of indecent exposure and disorderly conduct relating to two separate incidents that had occurred at their hotel.
Rollins’ criminal case raises questions about how the governor will proceed with the scheduled judicial candidate interviews in Cecil County next week.
“We are looking into it. Once the (short list) names have been sent over, I’m not sure if there is flexibility for altering it or if the governor has to select from the names sent to him,” Matthew Clark, a spokesman for the Maryland Office of the Governor, said Tuesday. “We’re going to have to look into the process. I don’t know the answer to your question right now.”
Hogan conducting the judicial candidate interviews in Elkton next week is a way for him to handle one of his many gubernatorial duties, while honoring his “commitment to visit every jurisdiction in the state at least once a year,” according to Clark, who noted that work can pile up when Hogan leaves Annapolis to tour Maryland or to visit state jurisdictions for government business.
Clark said he has only anecdotal evidence to suggest that Hogan’s practice of conducting judicial candidate interviews in the applicable counties, such as Cecil, is unique.
“All the feedback we have is it’s never been done this way in the past. Normally, they are done in Annapolis,” he said.
Davis, who made both short lists, is pleased that the governor will interview him and the other candidates in the Cecil County Circuit Courthouse, rather than in Annapolis, because the surroundings are familiar to him, he said.
“I’ve talked to some past (short list) candidates who said they liked going to the State House, while others told me it was intimidating,” Davis said. “For me, it’s getting done in a familiar place and I like that. This tells you a lot about our governor. It’s very considerate of him to interview us up here.”