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Long sworn in as Circuit judge

February 04, 2006|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN -

District Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. was sworn in Friday as Washington County's newest Circuit judge.

A Hagerstown native, Long, 58, served as Washington County's state's attorney for 23 years and was appointed to District Court in 2004. Gov. Robert Ehrlich appointed Long to the Circuit Court in December.

Family, friends and government officials attended the half-hour ceremony at the Washington County Courthouse.

After he was sworn in by Washington County Court Clerk Dennis J. Weaver, Long joked that the only difference between his old and new posts was the view.

"There's an awful lot to learn," Long said. "I look forward to the opportunity. I am so truly grateful."

The jokes were abundant throughout the ceremony. The president of the Washington County Bar Association, Arthur Schnieder, jokingly said Long's appointment drew some concern.

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He said members of the bar feared he'd develop "robe-itis" and attempt to fly like Superman. The remark was followed by a recording of the superhero's theme song.

"I know I can't fly," Long said with blushed cheeks, after he was sworn in.

During the jovial ceremony, Long encouraged people to apply for his vacant District Court seat.

"I've applied a whole lot of times over the years," he said of his unsuccessful runs for the District Court judgeship. "Sometimes it's about outlasting your competition."

Long's appointment to Circuit Court brings the total number of Circuit judges in Washington County to five.

The court needed another judge to handle the county's increasing caseload, said Frederick C. Wright III, the Washington County Circuit Court's Administrative Judge.

"For the last seven to eight years, we've been dealing with caseloads not at all attuned to the population," Wright said.

Washington County ranked sixth in the state for the number of criminal filings and seventh for civil and juvenile filings, Wright said. Wright said Washington County ranks 11th in population in the state.

Wright said Long brought experience and temperament to the court, and said that his appointment would enhance quality of the court's decisions.

As of Friday, there were no applicants for Long's old bench, according to the Maryland Judiciary Web site. Applicants have until Feb. 21 to apply. A judicial committee is expected to announce the nominees by the end of March.

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