- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Their supporters manned tents outside St. Mary’s early-voting location Thursday morning in Leonardtown, while David W. Densford and Joseph M. Stanalonis were both doing their respective jobs at the county courthouse as they near the finale of their contest for a circuit court judgeship.
Stanalonis, 41, wearing a windbreaker, was at his desk as an assistant prosecutor with the state’s attorney’s office, while Densford, 60, briefly shed his robe and sat in the jury room next to his chambers as he waited for lawyers to arrive in his courtroom for a hearing.
Densford, appointed to the judgeship last winter by the state’s governor, has touted his long experience as a lawyer handling a wide variety of cases, and has received endorsements and financial support for his campaign from other lawyers and law firms both in and outside of the county, along with $6,000 from a Prince George’s Committee to Elect the Sitting Judges. Stanalonis has stressed his work as a prosecutor, along with extensive civic activities, and has received donations and endorsements from law enforcement officers, including $4,000 from the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge’s political action committee, and an endorsement from a former governor.
Both candidates rejected any suggestion that they were bound to a particular base of support.
“Most people who have done the research would find that I have a well-balanced career in the prosecutor’s office,” Stanalonis said. “I think a lot of people were surprised to find out how involved I’ve been in the community over the last dozen years. I’ve heard from a lot of people around the community that it’s the combination of these two things that has given them the reason to vote for me and support me.”
Stanalonis said that some people may think his job is just about “locking up the bad guys,” but there’s more to it.
“There are a lot of people who have just made mistakes, and we have to think about what’s best for the community when we handle those cases,” he said. “If you commit a serious crime, you need to go to jail. If you make a mistake, we need to figure out what to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Densford said trial lawyers have a vast array of roles and responsibilities, and that he has not received donations from groups representing them collectively.
“I have never gotten a penny from a trial lawyers association. No trial lawyers association sits in my courtroom and expects me to rule a certain way,’” Densford said. “My support comes from county attorneys who [practice as] government, private, defense, former prosecutors and former law clerks. The only thing they share other than their roots in the county’s legal community is their desire to have a fair and competent judge. They are a component, not a major factor. I’m very happy to have their support, but if [limited to that], I would not have the broad support that I have.”
Densford said that Gov. Martin O’ Malley (D) appointed a prosecutor and former prosecutor in the past week to circuit court judgeships in the other two Southern Maryland counties, and he downplayed the recent endorsement that Stanalonis received from O’Malley’s predecessor, former Republican governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. “All governors try to appoint judges who will bring credit to them and their administrations,” Densford said. “Governor Ehrlich never would have seen my opponent’s name, because this [current judicial nominating] commission and the Ehrlich [era] commission, with overlapping members, never would have qualified him, which they did not, twice.”
Both Densford and Stanalonis are registered as Democrats.
The election is to a 15-year term on the bench. Judges must retire at the age of 70, but generally can serve after that on an active-retired basis.