Circuit judge hopeful Bannon attacks appointment process

July 23, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

Gregory Curtis Bannon doesn't consider himself a dark horse in this year's three-way race for the two judgeships on the Washington County Circuit Court.

"I think people are beginning to realize that they should have more control in their government," Bannon said. "Judges are picked temporarily and then they run for election - that's the way it should be."

Many in the judiciary and within state government have fought for years to remove judges from the popular election process, saying it is too political.

Bannon said he believes the current procedure is extremely political. Judges are picked by the governor from a list of candidates voted upon by a politically appointed local committee.


Bannon took a public stand on that issue in December 1996, when he accused Gov. Parris Glendening of making judicial appointments based on considerations other than merit.

For that reason he withdrew his name from consideration to fill a Washington County's Circuit bench vacancy, which eventually was filled by W. Kennedy Boone III.

Bannon, Boone and fellow appointee Donald E. Beachley are seeking the two available 15-year terms.

"Although Boone and Beachley are running as a slate, people need to know that they can vote for any two of the three candidates in the upcoming primary," Bannon said.

A Washington, D.C., native, Bannon, 44, said he wants to be a judge because he believes he can contribute to his adopted community.

"I've had 20 years of experience in criminal and civil trial work, much of it in the courtroom," Bannon said.

Bannon said he put himself through college and law school.

"I'm not afraid of hard work and long hours," he said.

As he goes door to door with his campaign volunteers, Bannon said people say they want to be treated with fairness in the courtroom.

"Judges shouldn't be tyrants," Bannon said. "They have a job to do, but all people need to be treated with fairness and dignity."

Bannon said there are obstacles in the way of his aspirations for the bench.

"Some in the legal community are afraid to openly endorse me because I'm running against two sitting judges," Bannon said.

He said he is heartened by the energy of his supporters who are conducting a grass-roots campaign, on a shoestring budget with no contributions being accepted from attorneys or special interest groups.

"If I win, it will be because my supporters have worked so hard," Bannon said.

His campaign workers have organized a rally for Aug. 28 at the Family Recreation Center on U.S. 40 east of Hagerstown.

Bannon grew up in Frederick, Md. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Maryland.

He was admitted to the bar in 1977 and began practicing law in Hagerstown in 1978.

Bannon and his wife, Marsha, have two children, Emily, 13, and Curt, 10.

All judicial candidates' names will appear on both the Democratic and Republican primary ballots on Sept. 15. The top two vote-getters on each ballot will be on the ballot in the general election Nov. 3.

At that election, the top two vote-getters will be elected to 15-year terms on the bench.

Circuit Court judges make $96,500 a year.

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