- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
For almost a year we have seen the roadside signs, campaign literature and letters written on behalf of the two candidates for the circuit court judge position. From comments made by supporters of both candidates, I think there are certain things that can be gleaned about Judge David Densford and Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Stanalonis.
Both men are deemed to be competent lawyers in their respective fields of endeavor, Densford as a trial lawyer and Stanalonis as a prosecuting attorney; both have contributed to civic causes; and both have a following of faithful supporters.
One thing that I have found interesting in the information put forth on behalf of both candidates by their advocates is how consistently they attribute the same credentials to their candidate. The champions for Stanalonis cite his firm demeanor when prosecuting criminals and the Densford faithful cite his years of experience practicing diverse aspects of the law. At this point it is doubtful there will be much, if anything, new to add to the list of qualifications for either of the candidates.
Mr. Stanalonis has the endorsement of his boss, State’s Attorney Richard Fritz, is supported by a large segment of the law enforcement community and has an acclaimed record as being an effective prosecutor who is hard on accused criminals. His proponents repeatedly boast about his accomplishments as a prosecutor. Mr. Stanalonis himself, in the letter he sent to prospective voters in June, emphasized his 16-year record of prosecuting murderers, child abusers, sex offenders, drug dealers, drunk drivers, drug addicts, small time thieves, deadbeat parents and juvenile offenders.
Judge Densford was one of the recommended candidates selected by the 14-member Maryland Judicial Nominating Commission, has the recommendation of 42 attorneys who live and or practice in St. Mary’s County, has wide support in the legal community and was chosen by the governor to fill the vacancy from the list of those considered best qualified for the position. Those advocating for Judge Densford repeatedly cite his 27 years of practice in varied aspects of the law and his wide range of experience in both civil and criminal matters.
Since the accolades for both candidates by their proponents have been amazingly consistent, I must conclude they are accurate.
Evidentially both men are accomplished attorneys, so I believe it is safe to assume that each of them has the expertise to maintain proper courtroom decorum and protocols. As a judge, it will be their responsibility to weigh the arguments put before them and pass judgment or administer a penalty within the parameters of the sentencing guidelines which can include minimum and maximum penalties. I believe this is where the widest range of experience would be a genuine asset in weighing all the circumstances that accompany virtually every case.
Any of us can find ourselves involved in a court proceeding for any of a number of civil matters. I have been in court as both a defendant and a plaintiff. I always felt I had a convincing argument in support of my position, but I also felt there were related facts, unique to the events which brought me to the courtroom, that I wanted considered and could affect the outcome. At the end of the day, I always fared pretty well, but I appreciated the judge considering the individual merits and nuances to the arguments presented.
I do not believe there is a “one size fits all” remedy to circuit court proceedings, the majority of which are not criminal in nature, and I surely never want to appear before a “hang them all to get the guilty” type judge. I believe everyone who chooses to, or is required to, appear in court will want a judge who has the ability to rely on the breadth of their accumulated knowledge and render a fair decision based on all the facts. If I ever go to court again I will want nothing less.
It is up to the judge to fairly reconcile the issues raised during a proceeding, so the candidate with the widest range of experience will be the best judge for everyone.
David A. Ryan, Hollywood