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Objective review? Not this

March 11, 1997

Only in the Maryland General Assembly does a lawmaker's personal experience carry enough weight to justify action. In one recent session a lawmaker who couldn't get a check approved because she couldn't show the clerk a major credit card - she'd forgotten them - introduced a bill to prevent clerks from asking for such identification.

Now comes state Sen. Thomas Bromwell, D-Baltimore, who's asked for a delay in the confirmation process of Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr., nominated by Gov. Parris Glendening to Maryland's Court of Special Appeals.

The problem? In March 1996, Judge Thieme made a ruling unfavorable to Sen. Bromwell's wife.

According to the Annapolis Capital's March 9 edition, the case involved Mary Pat Bromwell, who was involved in a child-support dispute with Edward Maszewski. The defendant told the judge that he'd fallen behind in his payments after being discharged from the Navy.

Judge Thieme didn't excuse him from paying the back amount, but let Maszewski do it in installments. And future monthly payments were cut in half by the judge. The Capital reports that Mrs. Bromwell's attorney, lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano, had argued against Thieme's ruling of leniency for Maszewski, noting that Mrs. Bromwell had other needs, including a new baby.

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Now perhaps there's an argument to be made that Judge Thieme was insensitive to the mother's needs in this case, but should Sen. Bromwell be the one making it, since he certainly stands to benefit if his wife is more financially secure?

We say "no." Any legislative objection to Judge Thieme's appointment should come from those who haven't been affected - adversely or favorably - by his rulings. For those lawmakers, Mrs. Bromwell's case should be part of a larger review of Thieme's decisions.

If that review shows a pattern of insensitivity to women who depend on child support, then Thieme ought to be rejected. If not, then he should be confirmed, regardless of how much a single ruling upset one legislator.

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