Katie O'Malley Makes a Case for Keeping Her Job

By John Wagner
Sunday, January 7, 2007; C12

Maryland's soon-to-be first lady, Catherine Curran O'Malley, is sticking with her plan to stay on the bench once her husband is sworn in as governor.

O'Malley, a district court judge in Baltimore, spoke publicly about her intentions during the summer as her husband, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D), was campaigning to unseat Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).

But Katie O'Malley's desire to keep her job has been complicated by a residency requirement and other family considerations regarding an anticipated move to Annapolis. The O'Malleys have four children, including two daughters in high school.

On Friday, a lawyer for the governor-elect wrote to Ben C. Clyburn, the chief judge for the District Court of Maryland, citing case law that suggests a temporary move to Annapolis would not preclude Katie O'Malley from maintaining her "domicile" in Baltimore, provided she intends to return there at the end of her husband's term.

"When this temporary position of Martin's is over, we both intend to reside in Baltimore," Katie O'Malley said yesterday.

The O'Malley family plans to move into the 54-room governor's mansion, known as Government House, sometime after Martin O'Malley's Jan. 17 swearing-in. But the timing remains unclear, aides said. The family has yet to make a decision as to whether to sell their home in Baltimore.

Katie O'Malley's decision to stay on the bench is hardly without precedent.

Marjorie Rendell, the wife of Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D), sits on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Mary Pawlenty, the wife of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), is a district judge in the state; and Gary Sebelius, the husband of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D), who refers to himself as the state's "first dude," is a federal magistrate judge.

Anne Holton, first lady of Virginia, had been a judge but decided to step down after her husband, Timothy M. Kaine (D), won the governorship.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company