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Shank says Judiciary has important responsibility

January 20, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

Editor's note: In this occasional series, The Herald-Mail explains the committees on which state lawmakers from Washington County serve in the Maryland General Assembly.

Committee name: House Judiciary

Washington County representative: Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington

Started on committee: 2003

Committee's purpose: Shank said there are two divisions of the law - criminal, which covers most felonies and misdemeanors, and civil, which includes litigation and contracts.

How the Maryland General Assembly Web site describes the committee: "Judiciary Committee considers legislation relating to courts and judicial proceedings. It also is concerned with administrative law; corrections; criminal and civil laws, penalties, and procedures; drunk and drugged driving; estates and trusts; family law; juvenile cases; the legal profession; legal rights and immunities; and jailable motor vehicle offenses."

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Key issue(s) the committee could face this session: Medical malpractice tort reform, drug and alcohol treatment and sex offenders. Shank said he doesn't think same-sex marriage, which previously came before the committee, will be a judiciary issue this year. A circuit judge ruled that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional; the Maryland Court of Appeals hasn't ruled yet on an appeal.

Bill(s) connected to the committee's work that Shank has introduced or plans to introduce: Increasing penalties for possession and distribution of child pornography; creating health-care courts to handle medical malpractice lawsuits

Subcommittee(s) local representative is assigned to: Hasn't been assigned to a subcommittee

Comment: "The Judiciary Committee has a very important responsibility. At one point in almost everybody's life, they're going to have some contact with the judiciary. And at that point, it will be a pivotal point in their life." Referring to the death penalty and family rights, among others, Shank said, "You will not find a set of more volatile issues."

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