In 1966, the state of Maryland created the Court of Special Appeals (the intermediate appellate Court of Appeals for Maryland) to help reduce the expanding caseload of the existing Court of Appeals. It is comprised of 7 judges representing the appellate circuit and 6 at large judges. judges to the Court of Special Appeals are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the state senate. At the end of a ten year term (salary $149,552 per year) their names must appear on the ballot where a "yes" vote is for retention and a "no" vote is for removal from office. The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, adhering to a 2001 rule of their own design, endorses both candidates because no complaints have been filed against these judges.
Deborah Eyler: of Annapolis, Maryland holds a JD from University of Maryland. Eyler was appointed by Governor Parris Glendenning and has been a sitting judge on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals for 17 years. Eyler has recently finished training through the Advanced Science & Technology Adjudication Resources program. Eyler is a past chair of the Commission on Pro Bono (which promotes the adoption by the Court of an amendment to Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, regarding a lawyer's pro bono obligations) and remains active in pro bono issues.
This election, Eyler believes the state of Maryland needs a special "drug court" to deal with the majority of cases entering the criminal justice system, while the civil justice system needs to find ways to make representation in custody battles more affordable. A search of the internet reveals Judge Eyler has written an opinion on the territorial jurisdiction arguement regarding DNA samples in a rape case. Judge Eyler has also written dissenting opinions aimed at ensuring that claiming injury during corperal punishment will not be a blanket protection from charges of child abuse.
More personally, Eyler once served in Sierra Leone as a member of the PEace Corps. Eyler is penning a booking focussing on Women admitted to the bar between 1902 and 1972 which was researched, in part, with the help of Maryland State Archive interns. Finally, Eyler made a $500 contribution to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama.
Robert A. Zarnoch: of Ellicott City, Maryland was appointed in January 2008 to the Court of Special Appeals. Since 1979, Zarnoch served as Chief Counsel for Legislation, and Counsel to General Assembly, Office of Attorney General for the State of Maryland. He holds an MA in Journalism from American University and a JD from Georgetown University Law Center. Since 1992 Zarnoch has been an Adjunct faculty at University of Maryland School of Law and University of Baltimore School of Law.
According to the League of Women Voters questionaire, Zarnoch urges greater support for legal aid and pro bono lawyering is needed. Promotion of pre-paid legal plans and self-help, expanding small claims courts and streamlining legal procedures would also help citizens obtain affordable legal assistance.
I haven't found any opinions crafted during Zarnoch's 9 months on the bench. Previously, as assitsant attorney general Zarnoch argued that Governor Ehrlich was not required to honor contracts negotiated with the State Workers Union by his predecessor(site). Zarnoch also argued argued that Gays and Lesbians do not have the fundemental right to marriage since the state defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman (site) and stated, "An invalidation of Maryland's law would have the unfortunate consequence of placing these issues outside the arena of public debate, outside the legislative and democratic process." On the other hand he did question Ehrlich's intention to allocate money to a Church conference as being of suspect constitutionality. Zarnoch also successfully represented Anne Arundel County delegate Mary Ann Love in a case where Republican legislators tried to prorate Democratic delegates ability to influence the county delegations role in the House (site). However, Zarnoch also set up challenges to the 1992 redistricting plan drawn up by then Governor Glendenning (site). Zarnoch also wrote an opinion as Counsel, indicating that local jurisdictions have the right to limit siting of dangerous facilites like a liquid natural gas plant (site).
On the personal side I haven't uncovered much about Zarnoch except that in 2006 he donated to the campaigns of Allan Luchtman and Paula Hollinger, both Democratic candidates.
I am going to vote YES to retain Judge Deborah Sweet Eyler on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Eyler has long experience on the bench and seem to have the intrests of the disadvantaged in mind. Eyler's background and apparent political proclivities reinforce this sense.
I am going to ABSTAIN from voting to retain Judge Robert A. Zarnoch on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals (this is different from voting "No", which I asserted I would do in a previous diary). Zarnoch has no record upon which to be judged except in his prior role as a Counsel for the State Legislature. However, I find his role to be a mixed bag relative to my position on the issues in question. I realize Zarnoch may not have been able to choose these cases, but some of his arguements are disconcerting to me.
UPDATE: By request, I am including which Governor of Maryland appointed each Judge. Zarnoch was appointed in January by Martin O'Malley (Democrat). Based on term of service I deduce the Eyler was appointed by Governor Schaefer (Democrat).