PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, MD — Although Prince George’s County has adapted its election this year for its Circuit Court Judges to a mail in ballot, the election is still on for five sitting judges to earn the votes to keep their seats.
This year those five judges running as a slate are Judge Bryon Bereano, Judge Wytonja Curry, Judge ShaRon Kelsey, Judge Jared McCarthy, and Judge Cathy Serrette. As part of the fifty year tradition, these judges were appointed by the governor of Maryland after passing a thorough vetting process which included earning endorsements of 13 bar associations and the governor’s appointing committee.
With the coronavirus at the forefront of everyone’s mind, the slate is hopeful voters will take their time to do their due diligence when casting their ballot.
“When you’re voting certainly in circumstances such as this, the one thing I would really ask people to do, is to understand who your candidates are. I’m not going to advocate for people to vote a certain way, but I am going to advocate and ask them to take the time to do the research, because experience matters,” Judge McCarthy told 104.7 WONK FM’s Jen Richer.
In terms of experience on the bench, all five are currently serving as Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judges, but also bring to the table a diverse background of legal experience as well.
“I implore people to look at the backgrounds of those who are running,” Judge Serrette advised. “It is a profoundly important position. People come in front of us every day with problems and issues that deeply affect their lives …and it is crucial that those folks who are ruling on these cases have the knowledge, the intellect, the temperament, the background, that would qualify them to do that.”
Drawing on those cases that change the course of someone’s life, Judge Bereano recalled, “I have done a lot of domestic violence cases as a judge in my previous experience, and certainly those are some of those very important cases where you’re trying to ... protect [a potential victim] from domestic violence, also the children involved…. it’s so profound in how that will affect the rest of their life.”
The slate stresses that it’s not just experience on the bench, but their breadth of legal experience as well voters should consider, “With all of that variety of information that I did when I was practicing on my own, I think that that’s really assisted me with coming to the bench with a wide variety of knowledge,” Judge Kelsey explained.
Voters will need to elect each candidate to the Circuit Court individually, but the five judges who are up for election have chosen to run as a slate, and as such are asked to consider the current bench as a whole, and whether or not that bench representing the community at large.
“I do believe that our Prince George’s County bench is diverse. I’m proud to be one of twelve African-American female judges on the bench in the county,” Judge Curry responded. “The bench is also diverse in terms of professional backgrounds. Members have come from private practice, the state’s attorney’s office, some have served as magistrate judges, some have former public defender experience, some are former defense attorneys as well as prior county attorneys.”
This year’s elections are June 2, 2020 and the slate of five (5) sitting judges is being challenged by two (2) local attorneys. It will be an election by mail due to the precautions taken under the coronavirus pandemic.
Listen to the five seated judges talk with 104.7 WONK FM's Jen Richer about the importance of voting in this year’s election here: