Judicial Screening Commission Recommends Four for Appeals Court Vacancy

    Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) will have three judges and one attorney to consider for a looming vacancy on the state’s highest court.

    The Maryland Appellate Courts Judicial Nominating Commission on Friday posted a list of four nominees for Hogan to choose from to fill a vacancy created by the pending retirement of Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, who is due to step down next month. Barbera represents a Montgomery County seat on the seven-judge panel, so the nominating commission’s four recommended candidates all hail from the state’s largest jurisdiction.

    The list includes three judges — two of whom were appointed to their current positions by Hogan: Court of Special Appeals Judge Steven B. Gould, Court of Special Appeals Judge Terrence M. R. Zic, and Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Sharon V. Burrell.

    Also recommended: Attorney J. Bradford McCullough, a principal with the Bethesda law firm Lerch, Early and Brewer. In all, six candidates applied for the vacancy.

    Gould has served on the Court of Special Appeals, Maryland’s second highest court, since April 2019. He was a founding partner in the Bethesda firm of Brown Gould and Kiely LLP (now Brown and Kiely), which has a business and personal injury practice.

    Zic has served on the Court of Special Appeals since last November. He has been a partner or principal at three separate law firms during his career, and when he finished law school he served as a clerk to then-Chief Appeals Court Judge Robert C. Murphy in 1989 and 1990.

    Burrell has served on the Montgomery County Circuit Court since 2008, an appointee of former Gov. Martin J. O’Malley (D). She also served as a clerk to a Maryland Court of Appeals judge, the late Harry A. Cole, early in her career.

    McCullough is a commercial and business litigator and appellate attorney who has been with Lerch, Early, and Brewer since 1997. He clerked for a Special Court of Appeals judge, Theodore G. Bloom, early in his career.

    Barbera has been the state’s chief judge since 2013 and a member of the Appeals Court since 2008. The mandatory retirement age for appellate judges in Maryland is 70.

    Whenever Barbera’s replacement is seated on the bench, it will make five of the seven judges on the state’s highest court Hogan appointees. Hogan has not yet said who he will nominate to fill the role of chief judge.

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    Josh Kurtz
    Founding Editor Josh Kurtz is a veteran chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He was an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, for eight years, and for eight years was the editor of E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill. For 6 1/2 years Kurtz wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz regularly gives speeches and appears on TV and radio shows to discuss Maryland politics.