A judicial nominating commission has recommended four candidates, including one African-American, for an opening on the Circuit Court bench in Charles County, Md.
Minority residents comprise 51.6 percent of the population in Charles County. The county has one black judge, according to a SoMdNews.com article.
The candidates recommended to Gov. Martin O’Malley for the judgeship are private attorneys Patrick J. Devine and Thomas R. Simpson Jr., Charles County Deputy State’s Attorney Jerome R. Spencer and Deputy County Attorney Elizabeth D. Theobalds. They were selected from a pool of seven people; Theobalds is the lone African-American and lone woman of the four nominees recommended by the panel.
Janice Wilson, president of the Charles County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said it is important to have more African-American judges. She pointed to racial disparities in the criminal justice system and said she hopes the governor “will recognize the attributes that [Theobalds] would bring to the position and she gets a fair shake at this.”
Rudolf A. Carrico Jr., chairman of the commission, said diversity is among factors that the panel takes into account when considering finalists.
Justice at Stake, in coordination with its partners, is taking concrete steps towards increasing diversity on the bench. JAS states on its Web site, “In order to function effectively, every American must have the utmost confidence in their courts. However, a judiciary that does not reflect the population it serves undermines that confidence in creating a perceived or actual bias in judicial decision making. An ideal bench is representative of the larger community, including women, persons of color, members of the LGBT community, persons with disabilities and other underrepresented groups.”