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Judge Wright a welcome addition

September 08, 2012

As Dana Moylan Wright was sworn in to her new job on the bench of Washington County Circuit Court late last month, the best line came from her husband Samuel, who remarked on the circumstance of seeing one’s wife in court — and having it be a good thing.

We concur that the appointment of Dana Wright is a positive development for Washington County, based on her impeccable qualifications, thoroughness and the historic precedent the appointment sets.

Jurisprudence, the dignitaries noted, is in Wright’s DNA; her father, grandfather and uncle have all served on the bench. Prior to her appointment to Circuit Court, Wright served as a Washington County District Court judge.

Attorney D. Bruce Poole paid Wright perhaps the highest compliment a judge can receive when he remarked that clients appearing in Wright’s courtroom were satisfied that “I was heard; I had my shot.”

The undercurrent here is that Wright is the first female judge in Washington County at either the District or Circuit level. And there used to be a time in this county when some women believed that the local judiciary was a boys club, and that when a woman appeared in court on domestic matters she would not have a shot.

This might have been somewhat a matter of perception — in truth, some judges here have worked hard in defense of women’s issues, and in many cases the judges’ hands have been tied by state laws that offered women little protection.

But while women ascended to the bench in many other Maryland counties, the Washington County judiciary remained the exclusive territory of men. Good men, but men.

A woman could be excused for thinking that some aspects of a woman’s perspective might not be appreciated by an all-male bench. Wright alluded to this situation when she said, “Some of the understanding I have of the litigants in front of me, from a female perspective, can be very helpful,” whether it be in domestic violence, family law, criminal or other proceedings.

This understanding is welcome, and long overdue.

“With your investiture today, history is going to be made,” Administrative Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. told Wright as she was sworn in.

Of course Wright’s qualifications and talent would make her a welcome addition to any bench regardless of gender. But a little history to go along with it never hurts.

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