From the Baltimore Sun
O'Malleys' new life is a tale of two cities
Conflict rises over residency
By Jennifer Skalka
January 6, 2007
The O'Malley brood includes four children, three dogs and two parents
with bustling careers, and, of late, the whole crew has wrestled with
one big decision.
Maryland's Constitution requires Martin O'Malley, once he is sworn in
as governor, to live in Annapolis. But the law also demands that
District Court judges, including Catherine Curran O'Malley of the
Baltimore bench, reside where they work.
The O'Malleys face a historic quandary - and one that is a novel twist
on a problem many families must confront when one parent is offered a
promotion in a new city.
With 11 days until the Baltimore mayor takes his oath as the state's
61st governor, the O'Malleys are still hashing out the practicalities
of work and family lives that will - at least in the short term,
according to the new first lady - straddle the two locations.
"We do intend to live in the mansion, we definitely do," Judge O'Malley
said in an interview yesterday. "The children are very excited about
it. As I am. ... But our intention is to remain as Baltimore City
residents for the rest of our lives."
In a letter sent yesterday to Chief Judge Ben C. Clyburn of the
District Court of Maryland, the incoming governor's attorney explains
that Catherine O'Malley will keep her job as one of 27 Baltimore
District Court judges.
"Judge O'Malley's intent to maintain her domicile in Baltimore City is
not inconsistent with the expectation that she will spend substantial
amounts of her non-work time in Annapolis, including living in the
Governor's Mansion, with her husband and children," Ralph S. Tyler
wrote in the document, which was obtained by The Sun.
In addition to work-related issues, the couple must also determine what
is best for their children - two teenage daughters and two young sons -
who would have to transfer to new schools with a move to Government
House or commute more than an hour each way. The family lives in
Baltimore's Arcadia neighborhood.
"We're going to just play that by ear," Catherine O'Malley said. "The
girls are very happy where they are right now."
The boys, because they are younger, are "a little more flexible," she
added, saying, "They may move to school closer" to Annapolis. The three
eldest children attend Catholic schools.
The O'Malleys are not the first family of a governor to ponder the
pluses of living at home instead of in Government House.
William Donald Schaefer wanted to stay with his mother in Baltimore but
moved to Annapolis -with his companion, Hilda Mae Snoops.
But no one challenged Parris N. Glendening, who spent most of his first
term with his then-wife and son in their University Park home in Prince
"You are literally living in a fishbowl there," Glendening said in an
interview this week, referring to the mansion across the street from
the State House. "You walk out the door, and the public and the press
are there. For children, in particular, there's a pretty strong impact."
Former Maryland Gov. Harry R. Hughes lived in Government House with his
wife, Patricia. He said his decision turned on matters of convenience
"I think it's symbolically important," said Hughes, who is on
O'Malley's transition team. "It's been there a long time. It's sort of
tradition in Maryland. The thought never occurred to me to not live
Governors across the country make different choices, and many are not
bound by state law to live in state-provided housing.
Catherine Curran O'Malley said she and her husband don't have a move-in
date because they haven't received a move-out date from Gov. Robert L.
Ehrlich Jr.'s family.
Still, she said, she is looking forward to Annapolis and believes she
can juggle career, family and state responsibilities. She said she's
hoping that her role as first lady will focus on many of the issues she
deals with in her courtroom: truancy, gangs and absent parents, among
O'Malley and his wife have dueling conditions tied to their jobs. The
state Constitution says the governor must "reside at the seat of
government." Meanwhile, state law also requires a District Court judge
"be a resident of the district in which he holds office." Few lawmakers
or constitution drafters probably could have imagined that the
requirements might conflict within a household.
Legal experts say that in the past the courts have broadly interpreted
the residency restriction that affects the state's next first lady,
looking at a number of factors - such as where a person sleeps
overnight and votes. Other matters, such as where a person's children
attend school, where mail is received and even where an individual's
doctors and dentists work, could also help establish domicile,
according to a case involving one-time Republican Gov. Theodore R.
McKeldin wanted to run for Baltimore mayor after serving eight years as
governor. His bid was challenged on the grounds that he had resided in
Annapolis, not Baltimore, during his tenure. But McKeldin, who had
served as the city's mayor in the 1940s before becoming governor, won
"The idea was he intended to return" to Baltimore, said Judge Joseph F.
Murphy Jr., chief judge of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. "When
he left to live in Annapolis, as he was required to do as governor, it
was his intent to reside there only for the period of time during which
he was serving as governor."
Murphy said that by that standard, the O'Malleys, too, are simply
temporary residents of Annapolis - even if they were to sell their
Walther Avenue home.
"I think the McKeldin case makes it a slam dunk, and I think as long as
[Catherine O'Malley] wants to continue to serve as a judge, she can,"
he added. "And the only way that she would not be able to is if she at
some point says she no longer intends to return to Baltimore. ... You
keep your domicile until you intend to change it."
That question of intent was revisited during a 1998 case exploring
whether former state Sen. Clarence W. Blount had abandoned his
Baltimore residence for Baltimore County. Blount kept an apartment in
the 41st District, but he and his wife had a home in Pikesville as well
and stayed there more often than not.
The Court of Appeals determined that Blount's residence in the district
was valid, even if it was not his full-time residence.
"Domicile is not synonymous with primary place of abode," the court
Assistant Attorney General Robert A. Zarnoch likened Catherine Curran
O'Malley's situation to that of a college student who has gone away to
school but still gets mail, or even votes, back at home.
"The mere fact that she has accompanied her husband to the mansion does
not change the fact that she's still a Baltimore City resident," he
Glendening said that he was happy to stay in Prince George's County,
where his son, Raymond, played street hockey with friends and where the
family spent their Christmas holidays. Living there also made
manageable his wife's commute to Washington, where she worked for the
Federal Election Commission.
"In today's world, I think it is essential that one spouse be as
accommodating as possible to another's professional ambitions," said
Glendening, who appointed Catherine O'Malley to her judgeship in 2001.
"Just because you're elected governor doesn't mean your spouse should
But apart from a 35-mile commute, Judge O'Malley is keeping changes to
a minimum. Not only is she keeping her job, but in the short term at
least, the O'Malleys are holding onto their Baltimore house. "Baltimore
is my home," she said.
"I'm going to be in Baltimore every single day."
Copyright © 2006, The Baltimore Sun