Get the run­down on lo­cal or­phans’ court can­di­dates

Three seats, five in the run­ning

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By TAMARA WARD tward@somd­ Twit­ter: @CalRecTAMARA

Five can­di­dates are vy­ing for the three judge posts on Calvert County’s or­phans’ court. If elected, they will pro­vide over­sight of the county’s pro­bate court sys­tem on es­tates of de­ceased res­i­dents, ad­min­is­trat­ing the es­tates and hear­ing con­tested cases. Each of the three judges elected will serve a four-year term and sit on the bench one day a week. For their com­mit­ment, they will be paid roughly $9,000 a year. Each can­di­date briefly spoke with The Calvert Recorder and stated their case for why they should be elected or re-elected as judge of or­phans’ court. Be­low are their re­sponses in al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der.

Les­lie Downs

Repub­li­can Les­lie Downs is the long­est-serv­ing sit­ting judge on Calvert’s or­phans’ court with 16 years on the bench. Downs was ap­pointed by Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) to the post of chief judge for Calver t’s or­phans’ court and pre­vi­ously served on the Con­fer­ence of Or­phans’ Court Judges. Downs is a home­maker and also has a jew­elry busi­ness called Bay Beads.

“I have more ex­pe­ri­ence on the bench. I’ve been there longer than any­one else and I have built a rap­port with the reg­is­ter of wills,” Downs said. “I feel I use good judg­ment with every case that comes be­fore us.”

“Peo­ple are un­der the im­pres­sion we make ran­dom de­ci­sions. Not true. We are not a pol­icy mak­ing branch. We fol­low the let­ter of the law and use com­mon sense on the more dif­fi­cult is­sues,” Downs said.

Tammy Fowler

Demo­crat and Prince Fred­er­ick area at­tor­ney Tammy Fowler is also run­ning for the bench.

Fowler shares a law prac­tice with her hus­band and del­e­gate can­di­date for District 27C Ja­son Fowler. In prac­tice since 2014, she said her area of ex­per­tise is fam­ily law and es­tate plan­ning.

“It is im­por­tant to have some­one on the bench with a le­gal ex­pe­ri­ence,” Fowler said. “My spe­cific ex­pe­ri­ence with es­tate plan­ning gives me a unique ex­pe­ri­ence and makes me knowl­edgable about what the laws are and how to deal with com­plex le­gal is­sues. Deal­ing with pro­bate dur­ing a dif­fi­cult time is dif­fi­cult enough to deal with, let alone hav­ing some­one on the bench that doesn’t un­der­stand the le­gal ram­i­fi­ca­tions of pro­bate.”

Ted LeBlanc

Repub­li­can Ted LeBlanc is up for re-elec­tion and is fin­ish­ing his first term. LeBlanc is also a Prince Fred­er­ick area at­tor­ney and has been in prac­tice for 23 years.

Auto ac­ci­dents, crim­i­nal de­fense and busi­ness mat­ters are his ar­eas of prac­tice.

“I am cur­rently on the bench and I am do­ing a good job as judge. I was ap­pointed by Mary­land Court of Ap­peals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Bar­bera, to serve on the Con­fer­ence of Or­phans’ Court Judges in 2016,” LeBlanc said.

He still sits on the con­fer­ence and meets quar­terly with other judges in the con­fer­ence to de­velop best prac­tices and pro­ce­dures for the pro­fes­sion that he calls a “pub­lic ser­vice.”

“I’m an at­tor­ney. I think it is im­por­tant to have at­tor­ney on the bench be­cause the peo­ple have lawyers rep­re­sent­ing them — you need to know civil pro­ce­dure, you need to know ev­i­dence. You need to know Mary­land Rules,” LeBlanc stressed.

Thomas Pe­la­gatti

Also up for re-elec­tion is Demo­crat Thomas Pe­la­gatti, an­other Prince Fred­er­ick area at­tor­ney who has a gen­eral prac­tice and con­ducts real es­tate clos­ings as well as han­dles some trial work.

Pe­la­gatti has been on the or­phans’ court for 12 years, eight years con­sec­u­tively.

“I was the first at­tor­ney in Calvert County to be on the or­phans’ court in 1998. Prior to be­ing on the court, I did pro­bate work and I am a for­mer as­sis­tant state’s at­tor­ney for Prince Ge­orge’s County,” Pe­la­gatti said, not­ing he also teaches In­tro to Par­ale­gal at the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land.

“My ex­pe­ri­ence, education and train­ing, along with hav­ing the com­pas­sion and un­der­stand­ing when deal­ing with in­di­vid­u­als who have lost a loved one — I feel I am most qual­i­fied to be on the bench,” Pe­la­gatti added.

Derek Sabedra

Run­ning for elec­tion is Repub­li­can Derek Sabedra, a teacher at St. Leonard El­e­men­tary School.

Sabedra is also a school­based psy­chother­a­pist for both mid­dle and high school. He is the var­sity girls bas­ket­ball coach at Patux­ent High.

“In do­ing my job I have the abil­ity to me­di­ate, to ne­go­ti­ate and to lis­ten to those in­di­vid­u­als in­volved with the or­phans’ court process of wills and es­tates,” Sabedra said. “I have the abil­ity to make sound judg­ments and de­ci­sions based on an­a­lyz­ing the data.”






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