Montgomery County Circuit Judge (seven seats)



Published:

James A. Bonifant (incumbent)

• Where you live: Silver Spring

• Date of birth: March 14, 1956

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Montgomery County Circuit Court judge

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Montgomery County Circuit Court judge, 2017-present. Family magistrate, Montgomery County Circuit Court, 2013-17

• Campaign information:

 

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

Doing meaningful work has been important to me my entire career. Prior to becoming a judge, I served as a Family Magistrate for 3 1/2 years, presiding over custody and divorce cases. In private practice for 30 years, I represented clients from all walks of life: school teachers, police officers, lawyers, doctors, government employees, business owners and children as a Best Interest Attorney. Being a Judge allows me to continue this service.

2 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I graduated from UVA with distinction, receiving a degree in Economics and from UMD School of Law in 1982. In private practice, I handled a wide range of legal matters, including complex family litigation, real estate matters, commercial transactions and Will and Probate matters. I have a commitment to maintaining our Community’s health needs, having served many years on the Board of Directors of Montgomery General Hospital and Medstar Montgomery Medical Center. I have been a part of the County Bar Association’s Speak Up/Save a Life series designed to educate students and parents on the opioid epidemic.

 

Jeannie E. Cho (incumbent)

• Where you live: Rockville

• Date of birth: Sept. 16, 1966

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Montgomery County Circuit Court judge, 2016-present. Montgomery County District Court judge, 2012-16. Assistant state’s attorney, Montgomery County, 1994-96 and 2000-04. Assistant state’s attorney, Howard County, 1996-04.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Montgomery County Circuit Court judge, 2016-present. Montgomery County District Court judge, 2012-16.

• Campaign information:

 

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I have been privileged to serve as a circuit court judge since 2016, and as a district court judge for four years prior to that. All of the judges on the slate share the experience of having been through a vigorous vetting process that ensures that only the most highly qualified attorneys serve as judges.  I am honored to be able to serve my community as the first Asian American judge in the circuit court.

2 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I have been privileged to serve as a judge on the District Court of Montgomery County for over 4 years. Before then, I was a prosecutor, a defense attorney, a shareholder at a large firm, and I have run my own small firm. I was nominated and selected after undergoing a rigorous vetting process based on proven merit.

 

Jill R. Cummins (incumbent)

• Where you live: Bethesda

• Date of birth: Aug. 2, 1963

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Montgomery County Circuit Court judge. Previously: managing attorney, Allstate Insurance Co., Capital Region.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Montgomery County Circuit Court judge, January 2018-present.

• Campaign information:

 

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

As a recent appointee to the Circuit Court, I am compelled by the Maryland Constitution to run for office. After a lengthy and rigorous vetting process, I was appointed judge to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County and sworn in in January 2018.  After appointment by the Governor, the Maryland Constitution requires that all newly appointed Circuit Court judges stand for election in the next general election.

2 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I have been a litigator for my 29-year legal career handling complex litigation throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia. I have worked in law firms in Montgomery County, as well as in a corporate law department as a litigator and a leader. Having tried more than 100+ jury trials and having led a legal department as managing attorney provided an exceptionally strong foundation to be a Judge on the Circuit Court, handling the county's most complex and serious legal matters.

 

Debra L. Dwyer (incumbent)

• Where you live: Rockville

• Date of birth: April 17, 1960

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Montgomery County Circuit Court judge, 2016 present. Assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland, 2002-16. Assistant state’s attorney, Montgomery County, 1988-2002. Special agent, FBI, Jacksonville, Florida, 1986-87.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Montgomery County Circuit Court judge, 2016-present.

• Campaign information:

 

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I have been a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge since November 2016. Maryland’s Constitution requires Circuit Court Judges to stand for public election after being appointed by the Governor. The process by which I was appointed was rigorous, time-consuming and difficult. However, I’m confident this process by which Maryland judges are appointed, and by which my colleagues and I were appointed, ensures that Maryland’s judicial appointments are selected from only the most highly qualified candidates.

2 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I have served as a Judge on the Circuit Court for Montgomery County since November 2016. Before becoming a judge, I served as a Special Agent with the FBI. Following that, I was a career prosecutor for 28 years. I was an Assistant United States Attorney with the United States Attorney’s Office, Deputy Chief of DOJ’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, and an Assistant State’s Attorney for Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. In addition to other community activities, I have served on the Montgomery College Alumni Association Board of Governors (VP 2016) and the Rockville Human Rights Commission (Chair 2010).

 

Kevin G. Hessler (incumbent)

• Where you live: Silver Spring

• Date of birth: July 14, 1956

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Montgomery County Circuit Court judge. Previously: partner in law firm of Dragga, Hannon, Hessler & Wills, LLP in Rockville.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Montgomery County Circuit Court judge, 2017-present

• Campaign information:

 

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

Thirty-four years in the private practice of law and significant community involvement enable me to fulfill the responsibilities of being a circuit court judge. Those coming before the court seek fair and balanced treatment from experienced judges. I relish the honor and opportunity to serve the public and apply my experience to impartially, patiently and thoughtfully resolve those disputes in the complex and emotional matters which litigants are unable to resolve themselves.

2 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

Throughout my career, I have litigated matters in the court on which I now serve as judge. I’ve handled a variety of civil and criminal matters, including family law cases (currently comprising over 50% of civil matters in the Circuit Court). I’m experienced in the types of cases the court is entrusted to decide. As a former commissioner on the Montgomery County Commission for Women, and member of the Select Committee on Gender Equality in Maryland’s Courts, I recognize the issues women and minorities face when encountering the legal process and am committed to addressing those with fairness and sensitivity.

 

David W. Lease (incumbent)

• Where you live: Bethesda

• Date of birth: Dec. 10, 1965

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Montgomery County Circuit Court judge. Previously: founding partner, Smith, Lease & Goldstein of Rockville, 1999-2018.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Montgomery County Circuit Court judge, January 2018-present.

• Campaign information:

 

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I am currently a Circuit Court Judge and have always had a deep and profound respect for our system of justice. Each recently appointed judge must stand in the next election, and seven of us are now on the ballot. Each judge was appointed only after an extensive nonpartisan qualification process. All of us interviewed with numerous general and specialty bar associations and were found “most fully qualified” by the Trial Courts Judicial Nominating Commission.

2 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I currently serve as a Circuit Court Judge. Previously, I practiced law for 26 years and was a co-founding member of the Rockville law firm of Smith, Lease & Goldstein. I had a broad litigation and appellate practice focusing on complex civil and criminal matters. I have extensively lectured on various legal topics including discovery, evidence and property law. I graduated summa cum laude from the University of Baltimore School of Law. In our community, I served 16 years on the Board of Directors for Voices for Children Montgomery (two years as President) which advocates for abused and neglected children.

 

Marylin Pierre

• Where you live: North Potomac

• Date of birth: Sept. 18, 1965

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Pierre & Associates

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Was on the Maryland State Democratic Central Committee

• Campaign information:

 

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I am running for judge because I am qualified, effective, and fair. I love Montgomery County, I am responsive to the needs of the people who appear before the court, and I am sensitive to the needs of the community. As a lawyer, veteran, and mother, my job has been to serve and protect the community. If elected, I will proudly serve and protect the residents of Montgomery County. Please vote Marylin for Maryland.

2 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I have been practicing law for 26 years. I am a veteran, the chair of the Montgomery County Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission, and the general counsel of the Montgomery County Historical Society. My knowledge of the law and the community has made me a three-time winner of Maryland's Top 100 Women, a Montgomery County Bar Foundation Bar Leader, and the recipient the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) Community Service Award. My practice allows me to see the long-term effects of the legal system’s impact on the lives of people. That experience will serve me well as a judge.

 

Margaret Marie Schweitzer (incumbent)

• Where you live: Gaithersburg

• Date of birth: Aug. 25, 1958

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Montgomery County Circuit Court judge, January 2018-present. Montgomery County District Court judge, 2014-18. Assistant state’s attorney, Montgomery County, 1984-2014.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Montgomery County Circuit Court judge, January 2018-present. Montgomery County District Court judge, 2014-18.

• Campaign information:

 

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I am a sitting judge in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland. I was appointed to the Circuit Court in December 2017. Prior to my appointment, I was a judge in the District Court for 4 years, where I was appointed in March 2014. In both instances, I was vetted and approved by numerous bar associations, nominating commissions, and the Governor’s Office to have the requisite experience, integrity and temperament to be a judge.

2 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

Prior to my judicial appointments, I was Chief of the District Court Division, Director of Post-Conviction/Collateral Review, a Special Attorney General, as well as senior felony trial attorney in the State Attorney’s Office. I tried over 150 jury trials, including murders, rapes, and robberies. I am also the State Women’s Bar Association President, Vice Chair of the Technology Committee, and a faculty member of the Judicial Institute. In the community, I have partnered with schools participating in C-IT with the bar association, career days, mock trial competitions, and have given a TED talk.

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