Oath ceremonies set for appointed Cecil judges
Judicial appointees Clara Eva Campbell and William W. Davis Jr. have scheduled their oath ceremonies for Aug. 19 and Sept. 9, respectively.
Gov. Larry Hogan appointed Campbell to the open Cecil County District Court judgeship on July 1, the same day that he tapped Davis to become the next Cecil County Circuit Court judge.
Neither has been sitting idle since the appointments. That’s because Campbell and Davis — both of whom are Elkton-based private practitioners with numerous clients — are phasing out that part of their law careers before transitioning into their judgeships.
“My main priority is to take care of my clients, as many as I can, anyway, be-
fore I get sworn in as judge. I tried to schedule it (the investiture) as far back as I could while, at the same time, still accommodating the court,” Davis said.
Davis has been in a “winddown period,” as he calls it.
“I took inventory of all my cases and determined how many I could see through to the finish. So I’m still in court just about every day, representing my clients,” Davis said. “My clients are very happy for me. Some are already calling me judge. But some are sad for themselves, because they view me as their family lawyer and I won’t be able to represent them anymore.”
For the “handful” of his clients whose cases are scheduled for court after Davis’ Sept. 9 swearing-in ceremony, they will or already have received letters informing them that Davis will not be able to serve as their lawyer and that they must find new counsel, he explained.
Davis, 41, has been a private defense attorney and a contracted public defender for the past 13 years.
Campbell, meanwhile, is in the process of giving up her ownership of a law office at 190 E. Main St. in Elkton, where four attorneys will remain and continue to practice after Campbell takes the district court bench.
After passing the bar in 1987, Campbell, now 55, of Cecilton, worked with several other Elkton-based lawyers before branching out on her own. In 2012, Campbell expanded her law practice at 190 E. Main St. It is now the largest law office in Elkton.
“I can’t own the law practice when I’m a judge, but the entity will carry on. The practice is not shutting down and the office is not moving,” Campbell emphasized. “Right now, we’re just trying to get situated with the clients and the transition.”
Campbell is filling a judgeship that opened when Stephen J. Baker, 60, retired in October. Baker, who had received his gubernatorial appointment in May 2007, still presides as a retired district court judge.
Her swearing-in ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Aug. 19 inside the Ceremonial Courtroom (Courtroom I) in the Cecil County Circuit Courthouse. After taking her oath, Campbell will have a 10-year term. District Court judges must be reaffirmed by the Maryland Senate every 10 years.
Davis, meanwhile, is filling a vacancy created after V. Michael Whelan retired in January, when he turned 70, which is the mandatory retirement age for Maryland judges. Whelan, who had received his gubernatorial appointment to that circuit judgeship in June 2010 and then retained the position in the next election, now sits as a retired circuit court judge.
Davis will start start sitting as a Circuit Court judge after his Sept. 9 investiture, which, like Campbell’s Aug. 19 investiture, will take place at 4 p.m. in the Ceremonial Courtroom (Courtroom I) in the Cecil County Circuit Courthouse.
Unlike the process for a District Court judgeship, however, Davis must defeat all challengers, if any, in the 2018 mid-term election to retain his judgeship. The term for an elected Circuit Court judge is 15 years.
Campbell and Davis will “shadow” judges for a brief period and receive training after their investitures, before presiding solo over courtroom dockets.
The governor appointed Campbell and Davis on July 1, two days after he interviewed them and the other “short list” judicial candidate, E.B. Fockler IV, inside a third-floor conference room at the Cecil County Circuit Courthouse in Elkton — a departure from the practice of Maryland governors conducting those meetings in Annapolis.