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County swears in first female judge

August 21, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Washington County officially gained its first female judge Friday afternoon when Dana Moylan Wright was sworn in as a District Court judge.

Wright took the oath of office in front of a packed courtroom in the Washington County Courthouse, following remarks from family members and former law partners who praised her judicial abilities even as they teased about the constant storm of activity that surrounds her.

"Dana's no mortal human being," said James W. Stone, her former law partner. "She is a genuine force of nature."

Wright was a partner for 12 years in the Hagerstown law firm eventually known as Miller, Oliver, Moylan & Stone, where her partners said she contributed charm, perseverance, integrity and an instinct for finding solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems.

"When Dana became our partner, it was not because she demanded a seat at the table, it was because we insisted on it," Stone said. "And that, by the way, I think is one of the best decisions I ever made in my life."

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Stone said that before Wright joined the firm, he had never practiced law with a female attorney.

"Dana made it clear from the beginning she just wanted to be one of the boys, and that's what she did," he said, adding that she even used the men's bathroom at their office all 12 years.

G. Clair Baker, another former partner who is now Domestic Relations Master for Washington County, spoke of the respect and dignity Wright showed her clients as an attorney.

"Dana always understood there were real people behind those problems," he said.

Wright's father, retired Washington County Circuit Court Judge Daniel W. Moylan, said that lately, when he is introduced to someone new, he has begun to hear, "Oh, you're Dana Moylan Wright's father."

He said he saw his daughter's appointment as exciting not only for the family, but for the entire county.

"I think you will do a grand job, and I look forward to being your father," he said.

After donning her judge's robe with help from her husband, Sam Wright, and their children, William, 2, and Julia Ann, 6 months, Wright spoke of the lessons and inspiration she gained from her relatives, partners and other local judges.

"What I believe is that all of us, the good parts of us and the not-so-good parts of us, we develop based on the interactions that we have with people day in and day out," Wright said.

She promised to work "as hard as I know how to work," and, according to District Administrative Judge Oliver John Cejka Jr., that won't be hard to do.

In one year, a Washington County District Court judge can expect to hear about 15,776 cases, Cejka said.

"So you have much to look forward to, and in light of this, your colleagues and I hope you will start as soon as possible," Cejka said.

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