Wright to be first woman to serve on Washington County Circuit Court

July 19, 2012|By DON AINES |
  • District Judge Dana Moylan Wright
District Judge Dana Moylan Wright

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Thursday named District Judge Dana Moylan Wright to be the first woman to serve on Washington County Circuit Court.

Wright, 46, was one of five people whose names were forwarded to the governor by the Judicial Nominating Commission in May. Eleven attorneys originally applied for the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge W. Kennedy Boone III, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 in March.

“I’m very excited and honored to continue serving the citizens of the county,” Wright said Thursday night. She did not know when she will be sworn in, but said it could happen within a month.

The daughter of retired judge Daniel Moylan, Wright was named to Washington County District Court by O’Malley in 2009. She was the first woman to sit on the county’s district court bench.

Her uncle, Charles E. Moylan, is a retired Maryland Court of Special Appeals judge, she said.

Although both men are retired, Wright said they occasionally still hear cases.

“I wanted to become a judge in the first place because, watching my father, it appeared he had a profound impact on people’s lives,” Wright said. In circuit court, she will have more contact with the juvenile court system, “something that interests me a great deal.”

Beyond hearing juvenile criminal cases, there also is Juvenile Drug Court and Children In Need of Assistance (CINA) court. The latter deals primarily with abused and neglected children, Wright said.

Juvenile court “can be a place where one can hope to help families make progress,” Wright said.

The position of circuit court judge pays $140,352 per year, according to the Maryland Judiciary website.

Each Circuit Court judge then must stand for election at the first election that occurs at least one year following the vacancy the judge was appointed to fill, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections website.

“The judge may be opposed formally by one or more qualified members of the bar,” the elections website said. The successful candidate is elected to a 15-year term and, at the expiration of the term, the judge may run again, the website said.

Prior to her first judicial appointment, Wright was a partner at the law firm of Miller, Oliver, Baker, Moylan & Stone, where she handled a wide range of civil matters, including family law, according to the governor’s news release. She served as a law clerk for Judge Cypert Whitfill of the Circuit Court for Harford County, the release said. 

Wright also has served as the longtime chair of the Washington County Ethics Commission, the release said.

She earned her law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law, and received her undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University, the release said.

Wright will join Administrative Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. and Judges John H. McDowell, Donald E. Beachley and Daniel P. Dwyer on the circuit court bench.

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