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New judge described as 'fair' and 'intelligent'

June 06, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

District Court Judge Mark D. Thomas had tried on the robe once before.

But wearing his new uniform in a courtroom for the first time Monday was a feeling Thomas said he could not describe.

Walking behind the bench and addressing more than 100 people gathered for his investiture ceremony was equally emotional for Thomas, he said.

"I'm sure you saw me choking up," he said. "This is not something you ever think you're going to get to do."

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Thomas was appointed to a Washington County district judgeship in May, filling a position vacated when M. Kenneth Long Jr. was named to a newly created fifth circuit court position in Washington County.

Several of Thomas' colleagues spoke during the ceremony Monday, describing him as "fair," "ethical," "intelligent" and "superb." Remarks also were made about Thomas' bow ties, his zeal for religion and politics, and his passion.

Jason Morton, an attorney with Strite & Schildt and a member of the board of directors of the Washington County Bar Association, said he tried his first case against Thomas.

"Opposing counsel did not mean enemy," Morton said. "He was as much of a gentleman in the courtroom as he was during negotiations."

Morton listed some of the traits Thomas has that made him a great lawyer and will serve him well as District Court judge. He used words like intelligent, fair, modest, decisive, clear, consistent, passionate and ethical.

"Kindness," Morton said. "(Thomas) took me to lunch soon after my defeat."

District Court Chief Judge Ben C. Clyburn welcomed Thomas, a former civil litigator with the Hagerstown firm Meyers, Young, Grove & Thomas, P.A., to the court. Thomas was with the firm since 1990 until his recent appointment.

In 1999, Thomas began working as a part-time assistant state's attorney in Washington County.

"Welcome to the people's court," Clyburn said. "You will see many first-time offenders here. And for many, this will be their first and last contact with the justice system."

Clyburn said Thomas will have the opportunity to alter the course of lives based on decisions in court.

Mark K. Boyer, an attorney with Urner, Nairn & Boyer and an assistant state's attorney for Washington County, said he was sure Thomas would have a profound impact on the people who will come before him in court.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, presented Thomas with a certificate from Gov. Robert Ehrlich. E. Kenneth Grove Jr., an attorney with Meyers, Young, Grove & Thomas, also spoke during the ceremony.

Thomas' wife, Jean E. Thomas, and their two children were by his side as Thomas was sworn in.

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