Applicants Trying for Montgomery County Circuit and District Court Judge Vacancies

Three positions will be filled for District Court, two for Circuit Court



A local Judicial Nominating Commission is expected to meet next month to consider possible successors to two retiring Montgomery County circuit judges.

Fifteen Montgomery County residents are being considered for vacancies created by the retirements of Judge Marielsa A. Bernard and Judge John W. Debelius III. The pool includes seven new applicants and eight people who the commission has nominated for previous judicial vacancies, but were not appointed.

Bernard and Debelius are voluntarily retiring, not because of the mandatory retirement age of 70, according to an email from Jason Lucas, a social media and communications specialist for the Maryland Judiciary.

The same commission is considering who to recommend for three Montgomery County District Court vacancies.

Two District Court vacancies are due to the retirement of Judge Barry A. Hamilton and Judge Gary G. Everngam. A third vacancy will be for the upcoming retirement of Judge Eugene Wolfe. Lucas’s email states that Everngam reached retirement age, and Hamilton and Wolfe are retiring voluntarily.

Generally, District Court hears lower-level criminal cases, landlord-tenant cases and motor vehicle violations. Circuit Court is the venue for jury trials, more serious criminal cases and major civil cases, according to the Maryland Judiciary.

The District Court vacancy process is further along. On July 7, the committee narrowed a list of 26 applicants to 10.

Gov. Larry Hogan will choose judges for the five vacancies. It’s not clear when that will happen.

District Court judges are appointed by the governor, with the approval of the Senate, to a 10-year term.

The district court finalists are:

  • Carlos Federico Acosta
  • Amy Julia Bills
  • Jill Reid Cummins
  • Mary Kathryn Knight
  • Aileen Elizabeth Oliver
  • Deborah Murrell Whelihan
  • Karen Anne Ferretti
  • Michael Ormond Glynn III
  • David Warren Lease
  • Clark Emanuel Wisor III.

For the circuit court vacancies, a committee is scheduled to meet on Oct. 20 to narrow the pool of 15 candidates.

Those candidates are:

  • Jill Reid Cummins
  • Kenneth Andrew Grigg Jr.
  • Alec Michael Lewis
  • District Judge John Christian Moffett
  • Marylin Pierre
  • Ayo Mario Stevens
  • Deborah Murrell Whelihan
  • Theresa Michelle Chernosky
  • Gerald William Heller
  • David Warren Lease
  • District Judge Patricia Lynn Mitchell
  • District Judge James Bernard Sarsfield
  • District Judge Margaret Marie Schweitzer
  • Samantha M. Williams
  • Clark Emanuel Wisor III.

Hogan also will choose successors for Circuit Court judgeships from the pool of finalists.

After they are appointed by the governor, circuit judges must stand for election for a 15-year term in the next general election that’s at least one year after the date of the vacancy.

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