Judge Joseph Murphy sworn in to Court of Appeals

Published December 18, 2007

Judge Joseph Murphy Jr. was sworn in to the Court of Appeals yesterday, the first of three selections Gov. Martin O'Malley will make to the state's highest court this year.

Mr. O'Malley is getting to appoint an unusual number of judges early in his administration because several members of the seven-judge court have reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Judge Murphy fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Alan Wilner, who served on the Court of Appeals for 11 years. Judge Dale Cathell turned 70 in July. And Judge Irma Baker will retire in April.

The Appellate Judicial Courts Nominating Commission, which reviews applications and makes recommendations to the governor on potential judges, has finished advertising for Judge Dale Cathell's seat, said Sheila Sachs, its chairwoman. The commission will meet and consider applicants on Jan. 11, she said.

Ms. Sachs said it is unusual for a governor to get to place this many judges on the Court of Appeals.

Chief Judge Robert M. Bell noted the high turnover in his remarks yesterday.

"Our court will be undergoing a certain degree of change" in coming months, Judge Bell said, adding that Judge Murphy's long experience brings "continuity to this process."

Judge Murphy has been chief judge of the Court of Special Appeals, Maryland's intermediate appellate court, since 1996.

"We know him well," Judge Bell said. "We expect that he will be a great addition. What's more, he will hit the ground running, as it were. Congratulations, Joe. Welcome to the court."

"During the process of choosing Judge Murphy, I received so many calls and letters from all of the state attesting to Judge Murphy's integrity, his honesty, his intellect, his abilities and people spoke ... so very, very highly of you," Mr. O'Malley said.

"It is with mixed emotions that I take my new job because of the wonderful judges it has been my privilege to serve with before and after I became chief judge" on the Court of Special Appeals, Judge Murphy said.