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Long looks forward to job as Circuit Court judge

January 14, 2006|BY DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY -

It might be some time before M. Kenneth Long Jr. presides over his first case as a judge in Washington County Circuit Court, a post he was appointed to by Gov. Robert Ehrlich last month.

"He's not going to be completely on his own for a couple of months, and during the interim, he'll be sitting with other judges every day, probably for about 30 days, and then he'll be having his own court as it comes along," Washington County Circuit Court Administrative Judge Frederick C. Wright III said. "I want to give him as much experience in sitting in jury trials as he can, so if it means some civil cases that are trial-by-jury, I'll have him sitting in on that."

Ehrlich appointed Long, 58, to a new judgeship for the court in late December. A graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law, the former state's attorney appointed to District Court in 2004 is scheduled to be sworn in as a Circuit Court judge Feb. 3.

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Wright said once he joins the court, Long will be trained in several areas and procedures differing from the District Court level, including presiding over jury trials and handling a variety of criminal and civil matters that do not come before District Court judges.

"Judging is really an art that has to be learned over a period of time," Wright said.

Long said he has not had much time to bask in the honor or obligations of his appointment. Until he formally moves to his new position, Long said his duties as a District Court judge have occupied most of his time.

"I haven't really had a lot of time to reflect on Circuit Court stuff," Long said, noting he comes to the post with experience as a lawyer in jury trials. "It's not something that's foreign to me. I've tried plenty of jury trials as a (state's) attorney."

Long said he is looking forward to the position, though he expects he will miss working at District Court and with the people there.

"It's been a wonderful experience," Long said.

As one of five Circuit Court judges, Long will rotate between the facility's four courtrooms once he is assigned to preside over his own trials. The process should become easier once ongoing renovations at the courthouse are completed.

Washington County Public Works Director Gary W. Rohrer said the project, which includes new chambers for Long as well as a fifth courtroom, is expected to be finished by May. Rohrer said changes to the project shifted the completion date from around the first of this year.

Until the work is done, Clerk of Courts Dennis Weaver said Long will work from a temporary office at the courthouse.

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