- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2008

ANNAPOLIS | Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley spoke publicly for the first time Thursday on whether he will give a judge appointment to the son of Senate President Thomas V. Miller Jr. However, he made no decision on the politically charged issue.

“I think we need to not punish spouses or siblings or the sons and daughters of political figures, and I think we need to judge them on their merits,” Mr. O’Malley said on WTOP Radio’s “Ask the Governor” program.

Three members of the commission that vets judicial candidates resigned last month, saying they were lobbied too hard to nominate Thomas V. Miller III and that the process had become overly politicized.

Mr. Miller, Southern Maryland Democrat, declined to discuss his son’s nomination.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat who appoints judges from submissions from county commissions, had avoided publicly commenting on the nomination until Thursday.

Mr. Miller III has served for 12 years on the Maryland Parole Commission with other political appointees, Republican and Democrat, including a former state senator, a state delegate, the son of a former senator and a failed candidate for state senate.

Mr. Miller III applied last year to serve as a District Court judge in Anne Arundel County.

When the Anne Arundel Judicial Nominating Commission sent a list of five candidates to fill three vacant judgeships in February, Mr. Miller III was not on the list.

Mr. O’Malley then issued an executive order in March that stated all commissions must submit at least three candidates to fill each vacancy on the bench.

The Anne Arundel commission submitted its second list last month, with five additional candidates, including Mr. Miller’s son.

Shortly after submitting the list, the three members of the nominating commission resigned in protest.

Mr. O’Malley sharply criticized the members, including two he appointed last year.

“If people cannot count to three, they shouldn’t serve on the judicial nominating commission,” he said.

The O’Malley administration has defended the executive order, saying the governor wants to pick a qualified judge without being forced into a choice by a commission. They cited two other county commissions that had submitted relatively short lists of candidates.

The Cecil County Judicial Nominating Commission submitted a list of two candidates to fill a vacancy in April, then resubmitted a list with three candidates.

Delegate Michael Smigiel Sr., Cecil County Republican, applied but was left off the list. He then cried foul, saying the process was overly politicized.

Mr. Smigiel is a lead plaintiff in a lawsuit before Maryland’s highest court challenging a separate O’Malley executive order unionizing child care workers.

The chairman of the Cecil County commission also was chairman of Mr. O’Malley’s campaign operations in Cecil County in 2006.

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