Ocean City Today

Kent and Oglesby take bench on Maryland Circuit Court

By Brian Gilliland | Feb 01, 2018
Photo by: Brian Gilliland State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby is sworn in as a judge of the circuit court last Friday by Clerk of the Court Susan Braniecki while his wife, Anne, daughter Georgia and son Evan, look on.

(Feb. 2, 2018) During the past two weeks, Gov. Larry Hogan’s choices to fill the two vacancies on the Circuit Court bench, Mary M. “Peggy” Kent and Beau Oglesby, were invested as judges, with her leaving a spot as a family magistrate and him vacating the office of state’s attorney.

Kent was first to be sworn in, as she replaced former Administrative Judge Thomas C. Groton III, who reached the state’s mandatory retirement age of 70 last August. Oglesby replaces Richard Bloxom, who reached the same milestone in September.

Both Bloxom and Groton can continue to hear cases, but on a reduced schedule.

Judge Brian Shockley has assumed the role of administrative judge of the circuit court and handles day-to-day operations, formulating the budget and other duties.

Kent is the first woman in the county’s 275-year history to be named to the circuit court bench.

“Things always worked out and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. I might not have said the same 7-8 years ago,” Kent said. “It’s an opportunity for me to continue to hear the cases I love to hear. It’s all for the best.”

Kent had been considered for the post in the past.

Oglesby, during his investiture last Friday, said his pursuit of a law career was not based on a series of aspirations, but on a series of opportunities, and was the product of personal and professional relationships.

Circuit Court judges in Maryland are elected, however, and both Oglesby’s and Kent’s seats will appear on the 2018 ballot.

Jared DeMarinis, public information officer for the Maryland Board of Elections, explained Kent and Oglesby will appear on both the Democrat and Republican primary tickets without regard to either’s political affiliation.

“They are partisan elections, but without party designation,” he said.

Maryland is a closed primary state, so only registered Democrats and Republicans can vote in their party’s primary. If successful in the primary, Kent and Oglesby would move on to the November election, and if elected, would begin 15-year terms, DeMarinis said.

Before the February 27 deadline to file, anyone who meets the standard for Circuit Court judges can file to challenge the governor’s appointees.

DeMarinis said the qualifications are membership in the Maryland State Bar Association, being a registered voter, having resided in the state circuit the court is located in for six months prior to the election and being at least 30 years of age.

Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus protested the appointment of Oglesby, because of his involvement in the ongoing case of racial bias involving former Pocomoke City Police Chief Kelvin Sewell and officers Lynell Green and Franklin Savage, which is currently under appeal in federal court. Oglesby has personally been removed from the case, but the state’s attorney’s office remains listed as a defendant, along with the county, Pocomoke City and others.

A few hours before Oglesby was sworn in as a judge, his deputy, Bill McDermott, was sworn in as interim state’s attorney. McDermott is seeking the office in his own right in November, and is currently challenged by Kris Heiser.

“Having been both an assistant state’s attorney and the deputy state’s attorney in Worcester County, I know the heavy responsibilities of this office,” McDermott said. “Together, with a first-class team of prosecutors, support staff and the most accomplished law enforcement agencies in the state. I am confident our history of holding all those who commit criminal acts accountable for their behavior will persevere.”

McDermott named assistant state’s attorney Diane Karsnitz his deputy.

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