Ocean City Today
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Circuit court judge Bloxom retires

Spent 27 years in county courts, will continue to sit for cases as senior judge
By Brian Gilliland | Oct 12, 2017
Photo by: Brian Gilliland Richard Bloxom

(Oct. 13, 2017) Maryland judges are required to retire when they turn 70 years old, at which point they become “senior judges” — still allowed to sit for cases, but with a limit on how many days they can spend on the bench each year.

This year, two of the three Circuit Court judges in Worcester County reached that milestone — Administrative Judge Thomas Groton in August, and Judge Richard Bloxom in late September — leaving Judge Brian Shockley to take the helm as administrative judge.

Bloxom, brother to former county commissioner, county attorney and law practice partner Sonny Bloxom, began his career in law as part of the Navy.

“Back then, during the Vietnam War, it wasn’t a question of whether you were going to serve in the military,” Bloxom said. “It was a question of which branch you were going to serve in.”

Like his father before him, he joined the Navy. After a few years steering ships, he said he was placed in law school and eventually landed as a defense attorney in the Judge Advocate General’s office. He was then promoted to the chief prosecutor in the JAG’s office in San Diego. A retiring judge picked him for a spot on the special court-martial bench, which “whet my appetite for the judiciary,” he said.

An exit from the Navy and a decade later, he was named to Worcester’s District Court bench, where he sat until 2005.

During those 15 years, however, Bloxom said he only saw a handful of cases directly involving or related to heroin and opiates.

“The so-called opioid crisis is upon us,” he said. “Overdoses, fatalities and the crimes driven by addiction like burglaries and thefts have increased exponentially. It’s so extraordinary it defies explanation.”

While he doesn’t know what the solution to the problem is, he thinks the courts are moving in the right direction.

“You need both incarceration and treatment to get a drug addict’s attention, and often what’s needed to get that attention is jail,” he said. “The drug court and programs are a success but not a panacea.”

Bloxom’s view could be a matter of perspective. As a judge deciding cases, his professional involvement is rarely auspicious.

“I don’t really see a lot of positives — we see society’s failures instead of the successes. Whatever trends manifest themselves, and the problems that flow from that are [judges’] responsibility.”

Bloxom plans to continue to preside over cases as a senior judge after his replacement is named, which he expects to come in the next few months. The nominating committee met this past Tuesday and will submit the final candidates to Gov. Larry Hogan for review. From there, it’s at the governor’s discretion when he will make the appointments.

Bloxom said he expects word to come down in November.

Ten candidates have applied for the vacancies: Richard Brueckner Jr., Jeffrey Cropper, Michael Farlow, David Gaskill, Julie Guyer, Peggy Kent, Beau Oglesby, Steven Rakow, Joseph Schanno and Regan Smith.

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