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Governor O’Malley Appoints Judges to the Court of Appeals, Court of Special Appeals, Circuit Courts

Highly Qualified, Diverse Candidates Selected to Serve Across the State

ANNAPOLIS, MD (December 22, 2011) – Governor Martin O’Malley announced today the appointment of Robert N. (“Bob”) McDonald, the Chief Counsel of Opinions and Advice for the Office of the Attorney General, to the Court of Appeals, Maryland’s highest court. Governor O’Malley also announced the elevation of the Honorable Stuart R. Berger to the Court of Special Appeals and the appointment of eight Circuit Court judges who will serve in Baltimore County, Frederick County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, and St. Mary’s County. These appointees have a diverse array of legal experiences, and all of the appointees bring exceptional qualifications to their new jobs. They also represent the wide ethnic, gender, and geographic diversity of Maryland.

Over the last several months, Governor O’Malley conducted numerous interviews with candidates recommended to him by the appellate courts nominating commission and the trial court judicial nominating commissions. All of the judges selected to serve in Maryland’s judiciary were recommended to him by the commissions.

For the Court of Appeals, Governor O’Malley appointed Robert N. McDonald to represent the Second Appellate Circuit (Baltimore and Harford Counties). Mr. McDonald will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Joseph F. Murphy, Jr. Prior to this appointment, Mr. McDonald served for approximately 15 years as the chief counsel of opinions and advice for the Maryland Office of the Attorney General. In this position, he writes or edits all formal opinions of the Attorney General’s Office – opinions that analyze many of the most difficult legal questions that confront the State of Maryland. He also provides less formal legal advice to all segments of state government on a wide array of important issues.

“Bob McDonald possesses one of the best legal minds in the entire state and has an impressive record of public service,” said Governor O’Malley. “He is regarded by his peers as an expert in Maryland law as well as fair, impartial, and intellectually honest. He has already shown an ability to logically and thoroughly consider some of the State’s most important legal issues, and he has particular knowledge about how court decisions affect the operations of State government and the lives of Maryland’s citizens. I know that Bob McDonald will be an asset to the Court of Appeals.”

Prior to becoming Chief of Opinions and Advice, Mr. McDonald served as the Maryland Securities Commissioner, Chief of the Antitrust Division at the Office of the Attorney General, and Principal Counsel to the Maryland Department of Transportation. Mr. McDonald also served for nine years as an Assistant United States Attorney and Executive United States Attorney with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland. With the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. McDonald prosecuted fraud, white collar crime, narcotics, and espionage cases. He also has experience as a litigator in private practice. Mr. McDonald graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1977 and served as a clerk for the Honorable Frank A. Kaufman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

For his outstanding career of public service to the State of Maryland and the Office of the Attorney General, Mr. McDonald received the J. Joseph Curran, Jr. Outstanding Career Service Award in 2007.

For the Court of Special Appeals, Governor O’Malley has elevated Judge Stuart Ross Berger, currently serving on the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, to fill the at-large vacancy created by the appointment of Judge Hollander to the United States District Court. Judge Berger has served with distinction as a Circuit Court Judge since 1998. He also has been designated to sit temporarily on the Court of Special Appeals on numerous occasions. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Berger worked in private practice, litigating a wide variety of civil and criminal cases. He received his law degree from the University of Baltimore in 1984.

“Judge Berger is unquestionably one of the finest trial judges in the State,” said Governor O’Malley. “He has a reputation as a smart, hardworking, thoughtful, and fair judge, and he has presided over a vast array of matters involving complex legal issues in many different areas. I have no doubt that Judge Berger will be an excellent appellate jurist.”

Judge Berger is active in the community. He has served as the director of the Baltimore Courthouse and Law Museum Foundation and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Zanvyl & Isabelle Krieger Fund, a non-profit organization providing funding for social projects in Baltimore City. He is a frequent speaker and lecturer at various universities, association meetings, and bar programs. He also received the Daily Record’s Maryland Leadership in Law Award in 2006.

In Baltimore County, Governor O’Malley has appointed Judge Nancy Purpura and Justin James King to serve on the Circuit Court and fill the vacancies of Judge Thomas J. Bollinger and Judge Robert Dugan, respectively.

Judge Purpura has served on the District Court for Baltimore County since 2001, where she has handled a wide variety of cases including criminal, civil, domestic violence, and zoning matters. Before her appointment to the District Court, Judge Purpura spent most of her career as a criminal defense attorney. She first worked in the Baltimore County Public Defender’s Office as a trial attorney handling juvenile and Circuit Court criminal cases, as well as civil contempt proceedings. As she became more experienced, Judge Purpura gained a special expertise in death penalty cases, forensic science (including DNA identification techniques) and mental health issues. Judge Purpura earned her degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1984.

Mr. King is a career public servant with 30 years of experience with the Baltimore City Law Department. He currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Litigation and the Chief of the Baltimore City Central Bureau of Investigation. In addition to his full-time job, Mr. King maintains a limited part-time solo practice with a concentration in wills and estates, personal injury, zoning, traffic-related criminal defense, domestic relations, and contract law. Mr. King graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1980.

In Frederick County, Governor O’Malley has appointed William Rogers Nicklas, Jr. to the Circuit Court. For the past 32 years, Mr. Nicklas has worked as a partner in a Frederick County-based boutique firm. His wide-ranging practice includes personal injury litigation, wrongful death, workers compensation, family law, civil litigation, adoption law, and criminal defense. Earlier in his career, Mr. Nicklas served as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Frederick County and as a law clerk in the Criminal Division of the Office of the Maryland Attorney General. Mr. Nicklas earned his degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1976.

In Harford County, Governor O’Malley has appointed Melba Elizabeth (“Beth”) Bowen to the Circuit Court. Ms. Bowen has been a prosecutor with the Harford County State’s Attorney’s Office for the past 29 years, and has served as a supervisor in both the Circuit Court and District Court divisions. Since 1993, Ms. Bowen also has served as the Chairman of the Board of the Harford County Child Advocacy Center, a multi-disciplinary unit which brings together prosecutors, police officers, social workers, forensic interviewers, counselors and a pediatrician to investigate sexual and physical child abuse as a team. She received her law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law.

In Howard County, Governor O’Malley has appointed Master William Vincent Tucker to the Circuit Court. Mr. Tucker has been a Master in Chancery for the Circuit Court of Howard County since 2004. Master Tucker previously spent seven years as a prosecutor for the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office and received the “Distinguished Service Award” as “Prosecutor of the Year.” He has also litigated family law, juvenile, and criminal law matters as a private litigator. Prior to attending law school, Master Tucker served as a police officer in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for HC Drugfree, a 503(c) non-profit organization that educates parents and provides resources and information to parents on how to raise drug-free children.

In Montgomery County, Governor O’Malley has appointed Anne Korbel Albright and Gary Eugene Bair to serve on the Circuit Court and fill the vacancies of Judge Durke G. Thompson and Judge Thomas Lewis Craven, respectively.

Since 1996, Ms. Albright has been a managing member and co-founder of Albright and Rhodes, LLC, a small Rockville-based firm concentrating in family, criminal, and immigration matters in the state, federal, and administrative courts of Maryland and Washington, D.C. Earlier in her career, Ms. Albright specialized in criminal defense, including a period of service as an Assistant Public Defender in Montgomery County. After graduating from Georgetown University Law Center in 1987, Ms. Albright served as law clerk for the Honorable Norman P. Ramsey of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Since 2004, Mr. Bair has been engaged in private practice in Greenbelt. Prior to that, Mr. Bair served for over 20 years as an Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the Maryland Attorney General. Notably, Mr. Bair served as Chief and then Solicitor General of the Criminal Appeals Division, at which time he successfully argued a Fourth Amendment case before the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Bair has personally appeared in hundreds of cases in the Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals of Maryland. In his spare time, Mr. Bair teaches Advanced Criminal Procedure as an adjunct professor at the American University Washington College of Law. After graduating from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1976, Mr. Bair served as law clerk for the Honorable J. Dudley Digges on the Maryland Court of Appeals.

In St. Mary’s County, Governor O’Malley has appointed David Wylie Densford to the Circuit Court. David Densford has been a trial litigator in St. Mary’s County for 27 years. He has worked as a solo practitioner, as part of a small firm, and as an Assistant Public Defender. He has extensive experience in criminal, landlord/tenant, and family law issues. Prior to attending law school, Mr. Densford was a television and print journalist. He has served on the Board of Governors of the Maryland State Bar Association and the Board of Directors of the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association.

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