- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2005

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s office is examining the Web log of a retired lawyer who leads a judicial nominating panel, after he used an ethnic slur in a posting.

William G. Duvall Jr., referred to illegal aliens as “wetbacks” in a May 5 posting at www.duvafiles.com. After the Salisbury Daily Times reported the posting yesterday, Mr. Duvall used his blog to defend his remarks, saying the term was endorsed by the now defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service 50 years ago, is still commonly used and “is a slur only in the eyes of the beholder.” Later yesterday, he offered an apology “to any and all who may have been personally offended.”

Mr. Ehrlich appointed Mr. Duvall in July 2003 to serve as chairman of the 13-member Trial Courts Judicial Nominating Commission for Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties. The panel nominates candidates, subject to Mr. Ehrlich’s approval, for judgeship vacancies. The nominations then are confirmed or denied by a panel of senators.

The Ehrlich administration sharply criticized the postings.

“We obviously to do not condone this type of language in any way, shape or form,” spokesman Henry P. Fawell said. “We expect to decide in the coming days and weeks whether action will be taken. We are taking it very seriously.”

Mr. Duvall, who didn’t return calls seeking comment yesterday, uses Duvafiles.com to post almost daily conservative commentary on local news. He often targets the Wicomico County Council, which has a Democratic majority, and three Democratic state delegates — whom he refers to as the three stooges.

His remarks on illegal aliens were made as he commented on the council’s proposal to use the former Lower Shore DRILL Academy as a facility for women who are detained by federal immigration authorities. “Now it wants to turn the place into a warehouse for illegal female wetbacks,” Mr. Duvall wrote.

Yesterday, he wrote: “I have made it a firm policy to abstain from comment on these pages concerning my service on the Trial Courts Nominating Commission, and see no reason to change that policy now.”

Mr. Duvall is the third Ehrlich appointee or aide who has come under fire for Internet postings.

Earlier this year, the administration fired conservative Republican activist James Crawford from his job as a community liaison for the Department of Business and Economic Development after the Gazette newspapers reported his Web site espoused views opposing minority contracting set-asides. His job at the agency would have included promoting minority businesses.

In February, Mr. Ehrlich fired longtime aide Joseph Steffen for posting rumors on a conservative Web site about Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat and possible opponent of Mr. Ehrlich’s next year.

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