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Donald Beachley named circuit judge

November 17, 1997

Donald Beachley named circuit judge

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

Hagerstown attorney Donald Beachley has been tapped to fill the vacancy on the Washington County Circuit Court bench, an aide to Gov. Parris N. Glendening said Monday night.

The governor plans a formal announcement today, spokesman Ray Feldmann said.

"He had a law career that spans nearly two decades. He was well-respected by the legal community in Washington County," Feldmann said.

Beachley will replace Judge Darrow Glaser, who announced his retirement in May.

Beachley beat out Washington County State's Attorney M. Kenneth Long Jr., the only other finalist recommended to the governor by the Judicial Nominating Commission. Long could not be reached for comment.

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Beachley, 40, will take the $96,500-per-year post but must run in the 1998 county election to secure a full 15-year term.

Beachley, a Myersville, Md., native, graduated from Hood College and earned his law degree at the University of Maryland Law School.

A Hagerstown attorney since 1980, Beachley is a partner in the firm Miller, Oliver, Beachley and Stone. He also has been a U.S. magistrate judge for 3 1/2 years.

Beachley could not be reached from comment Monday night, but in September he said he mostly handles insurance defense and family law matters.

"I handle some criminal matters that have no federal involvement," he said.

During the September interview, Beachley said he has a great deal of experience in social matters that figure in family law cases - drugs, alcohol and domestic problems.

"I have always aspired to be a Circuit Court judge. The public service aspects really interest me," he said.

Frederick C. Wright III, the court's administrative judge, praised the relative speed with which Glendening made the appointment. He said he is glad the governor did not wait until after the legislative session as he has in the past.

"We've been looking forward to this for several months now," he said.

Wright said he is also glad Glendening chose from the existing pool, since both candidates are qualified.

The process this time stands in stark contrast to the wrangling that marked the replacement of Judge Daniel W. Moylan, who retired in September 1996. In that appointment, Glendening sent the list of recommendations back to the Judicial Nominating Commission, saying he wanted more choices.

But the new applicants did not receive enough votes from the panel, so only the original two - Long and W. Kennedy Boone III - were sent to the governor for consideration.

Boone was appointed in April.

Operating short-handed for much of the past year has taken its toll on the docket, Wright said. Both Moylan and Glaser have been hearing cases on a part-time basis, but neither will be available after Dec. 31, he said.

Wright said the vacancy forced a number of civil cases to be postponed. That, in turn, has crowded the calendar on future dates.

"It's just been a very heavy trial calendar for the last eight months. When we have four judges, we'll be able to spread that out a little bit so cases don't have to be compressed," he said.

Wright said he expects Beachley to be sworn in in about 30 days. After that, he will spend a week with each of the other three circuit judges in an orientation process. He also will need time to wind down his private practice, Wright said.

That means Beachley likely will not begin hearing cases until January, Wright said.

But after a hectic year, Wright said he is looking forward to a calmer routine.

"Now, it should be stabilized. There's no anticipation, no expectation of anyone else retiring," he said.

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