In a dramatic break from its editorial positions supporting all liberal candidates for office, the Washington Post has declined to support the election of Judge Audrey Creighton to a full 15-year term on the Montgomery County Circuit Court.
This is the Post editorial:
ELECTIONS FOR circuit court judge in Montgomery County traditionally are staid events. Under Maryland law, judges who win appointment through a nominating process must stand for election, but they generally go unchallenged. As a result, we normally do not make endorsements in these races, which also fits with our general opposition to selecting judges by popular vote.
But the upcoming election for seats on the Montgomery bench poses a dilemma because of a controversy involving an incumbent judge, Audrey A. Creighton, that raises questions about her judgment and fitness for office. Voters need to pay attention to who they want to serve on this important court for the next 15 years, and as a result we are departing from our normal practice.
Four seats on the court, which handles major civil and criminal cases, are up for election Nov. 4; five candidates — the four incumbents and a credible challenger — are in contention. There is no question that three of the sitting judges — Nelson W. Rupp Jr., Joan E. Ryon and Gary E. Bair — should be retained. Judge Rupp is the longest-serving, first appointed in 1997, with an outstanding record that includes creation of a special drug court for people suffering from addiction. Judge Bair was appointed in 2012 and Judge Ryon in 2013, and both are known as capable, fair-minded jurists. We strongly urge that voters take care in selecting the names of Judges Rupp, Ryon and Bair.
But Judge Creighton and her advocates have failed to answer questions arising from her involvement with a man with a history of assaults, car thefts, burglaries and gun thefts. The relationship came into public view in May when the 24-year-old ex-convict with whom she had been living was arrested after allegedly attacking and kidnapping her. The criminal trial is pending. Public officials are entitled to private lives and victims of crime to sympathy, but there are troubling allegations that Judge Creighton initially misled police and that she gave the man legal advice when he was charged with marijuana possession, which a judge is not supposed to do. Judge Creighton has not commented publicly and, through her attorney, declined our request for an interview. She has not been assigned to preside over trials since the incident but has been sitting on en banc panels. Reportedly the matter has been referred to the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities, a disciplinary body. The allegations are serious enough that voters are entitled to an explanation or, failing that, to consider alternative candidates.
There is a qualified alternative: Daniel Patrick Connell, an attorney with broad legal experience. Now in private practice, Mr. Connell worked as a public defender in Baltimore and for the National Veterans Legal Services Project. Most recently, he served as a State Department senior rule of law adviser in Iraq and Afghanistan. People who have worked with him describe him to us as smart and capable. “Quick to understand issues, able to ask the right questions that get to the heart of a dispute,” according to international lawyer Michael Sullivan, who worked with him in southern Afghanistan.
Early voting begins Oct. 23.
An earlier view of the Post coverage:
Never underestimate the depths and lengths the Washington Post will submerge to in order to protect and defend their liberal puppets and politicians.
The Post report makes several stabs at reinforcing the Good Old Boy system of having the incestuous process of determining which attorneys will be placed on a list of names to be sent to the sitting Governor so he can choose which is the most qualified. Of course, this system and the convoluted process of having Circuit Court Judges face the voters after being appointed, in order to win a fifteen year term cuts out all unaffiliated voters in the primary process. This protectionism of the two major parties will never be changed and remains one of the most glaring affronts to the rights of unaffiliated and independent voters from being able to participate in elections.
This is an article published in the Washington Post on July 4, 2014.
In Montgomery, challenger presses judge on relationship with felon
By Dan Morse
During most election seasons, it’s hard to get less dramatic races than those for Montgomery County Circuit Court judges. Rarely does anyone challenge the judges in office, who got their positions after going through a complicated nominating process.
This year, as recent primary vote totals show, things are different.
The race, to be decided in November, involves a salacious controversy, allegations of misconduct, and a courthouse filled with lawyers who are at once fascinated and panicked about the whole thing.
“It’s a huge concern for every lawyer I know,” says Joe Fitzpatrick, a longtime local lawyer and former president of the Bar Association of Montgomery County.
The main players are incumbent Judge Audrey Creighton and challenger Daniel Patrick Connell.
Six weeks ago, Creighton, 53, admitted to having an affair with a violent felon who was arrested after allegedly attacking her in her house, where he had been living. The suspect, Rickley Senning, 24, has been jailed on charges of assault, kidnapping and other counts.
Although many Montgomery lawyers wonder whether such an association affects Creighton’s worthiness of a judgeship, they also worry about the position going to Connell, a virtual unknown in the local legal community who got on the ballot after bypassing the normal nominating process, designed to vet prospective candidates through a series of interviews before different committees.
At stake is a 15-year-term in office, to be held by someone who will preside over everything from murder trials to contentious divorces to multimillion-dollar lawsuits.
So far, Creighton appears to be holding up.
In the June 24 primary, voters were asked to select four judge candidates from five options. In addition to Creighton and Connell, voters could pick among three other sitting judges: Joan Ryon, Gary Bair and Nelson Rupp.
Based on total votes from the primary, Creighton finished second and Connell fifth. But because there was no clear order of finish between Republican and Democratic ballots, all five are set to square off in November for the four positions. See Washington Post for the complete article