Judge Newell seeks full term

Times-Record - - FRONT PAGE - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@ch­es­pub.com

— Caro­line County Cir­cuit Court Judge Jonathan Newell is run­ning for his first 15-year term pre­sid­ing over the court.

Newell, who served as Caro­line County State’s At­tor­ney for 14 years be­fore be­ing ap­pointed to the judge­ship in 2016 by Gov. Larry

Ho­gan, must be con­firmed by vot­ers to a full term.

Newell and chal­lenger Den­nis Fa­rina ap­peared on both the Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can bal­lots in June’s pri­mary elec­tion. Newell won more Repub­li­can votes, while Fa­rina won more Demo­cratic, send­ing them both to the gen­eral elec­tion.

In March, Ho­gan en­dorsed Newell’s elec­tion cam­paign.

“Judge Newell served the cit­i­zens of Caro­line County with distinc­tion as their state’s at­tor­ney for 14 years,” Ho­gan said. “I was hon­ored to ap­point him in 2016, and I am happy to en­dorse Judge Newell to­day. I urge the cit­i­zens to con­firm my choice in the 2018 elec­tion.”

Be­fore Ho­gan ap­pointed him, Newell had filed to run in an elec­tion against pre­vi­ous Caro­line County Cir­cuit Court Judge Karen Mur­phy Jensen. When Jensen de­cided in­stead to re­sign and with­drew, the elec­tion was can­celled, and Newell ap­plied for the ap­point­ment.

“I’ve never wa­vered in my in­ter­est in serv­ing,” Newell said. “It’s an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity to serve the county.”

Newell said the last two years serv­ing as cir­cuit court judge have been in­ter­est­ing, and he hopes vot­ers de­cide to keep him on the bench.

He said he has im­proved ef­fi­ciency by mak­ing sure court starts on time ev­ery day, and re­ar­rang­ing the case flow to be a bet­ter use of ev­ery­one’s time. In ad­di­tion, he elim­i­nated one staff po­si­tion, sav­ing tax­payer dol­lars.

Newell took over the juvenile delin­quency docket, un­til then as­signed to a mag­is­trate, and im­ple­mented the first Vet­er­ans Court pro­gram on the Eastern Shore, a form of en­hanced pro­ba­tion com­bin­ing reg­u­lar court hear­ings and tra­di­tional treat­ment with Vet­er­ans Af­fairs ser­vices, to keep vet­er­ans suf­fer­ing from drug and al­co­hol prob­lems out of jail.

“It’s been a pretty good suc­cess,” Newell said of Vet­er­ans Court and the sim­i­lar Drug Court pro­gram. “We’ve had a few wash out and go to jail, but you’d be sur­prised by the num­ber who, when you hold their feet to the fire, re­spond. Some for the first time in their life are work­ing, pay­ing taxes and tak­ing care of their kids. It’s nice to see re­sults, in­stead of them fall­ing back into crime, im­pact­ing them and their fam­ily.”

In other cases, in which other peo­ple are vic­tim­ized, per­pe­tra­tors have to be pun­ished ap­pro­pri­ately, Newell said.

He said look­ing over the sen­tences he has handed down, 70 per­cent were within guide­lines. In about 10 per­cent of the cases, all mis­de­meanors, he sen­tenced be­low guide­lines, and in the re­main­ing 20 per­cent, mostly sex of­fense and felony drug cases, he went above the guide­line.

“Some peo­ple think I’m be­ing ex­tra tough or ex­tra le­nient, but I’m just try­ing to take each case in­di­vid­u­ally and do what’s in the best in­ter­est of so­ci­ety, to ei­ther help them or put them in a po­si­tion they can’t harm any­one else,” Newell said.

Newell is a na­tive of Ch­ester­town, and has a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in phi­los­o­phy and po­lit­i­cal sci­ence from Wash­ing­ton Col­lege.

He spent two years as a pro­fes­sional river guide in West Vir­ginia be­fore start­ing law school at Wash­ing­ton and Lee Univer­sity in Vir­ginia.

Newell grad­u­ated from law school in 1998. His first job out of school was as a law clerk in Queen Anne’s County. He joined the Caro­line County Of­fice of the Pub­lic De­fender in 1999, then served as a deputy state’s at­tor­ney in Kent County.

In 2002, he ran for and won elec­tion to his first term as Caro­line County’s state’s at­tor­ney. In his time in of­fice, Newell han­dled all the county’s mur­der and felony drug cases, and most sex of­fense cases.

In his 14 years as the county’s state’s at­tor­ney, Newell fo­cused on felony drug, sex of­fense and child abuse cases, plus a dozen mur­der cases. He also over­saw the ex­e­cu­tion of the first wire­tap in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Caro­line County, which dis­man­tled the county’s main heroin dis­tri­bu­tion ring.

“As a pros­e­cu­tor, there were some times I re­ally felt that was as far as I could go to see jus­tice done; I could only de­liver it to court,” Newell said. “The first time some­one got a fully sus­pended sen­tence af­ter be­ing con­victed by a jury of rape, that was the first time I thought about get­ting into an­other arena.”


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