Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller called Tuesday for an end to Maryland's practice of allowing challengers to run against appointed Circuit Court judges, saying a system that forces judges to raise money for political campaigns is "very unseemly."
Miller endorsed a constitutional amendment that would require newly appointed Circuit Court judges to run to keep their seats in so-called "retention" elections, in which voters would either say yes or no to their remaining on the bench. That is the system the state uses for appointments to its appellate courts.
The Circuit Courts are Maryland's principal trial courts for serious criminal and civil cases. The judges are now appointed by the governor but must run to stay on the bench for a 15-year term in the next possible election. Traditionally, new judges run in both party primaries. Usually they win the nominations of both parties, but in some cases a challenger wins one party primary to set up a general election contest.