ANNAPOLIS—Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. has been named the new administrative judge for the Washington County Circuit Court, succeeding Judge John H. McDowell who has held the position since 2008.
"I'd never been an administrator before, and I have been the administrative judge for three years," McDowell said Wednesday. "I've found that administering the courts is a lot different than hearing cases and dispensing justice."
McDowell said he believes county residents will be better served by him focusing his efforts on hearing and deciding cases.
"Judge Long was the state's attorney before, so he has administrative experience," McDowell said. "He is, of all of us, the best person for the job, and I'm elated that he was the one appointed to take my place."
"I didn't have these duties before, so I'm learning," Long said Wednesday. "It's made my day a lot busier."
Long's appointment as administrative judge by Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Robert M. Bell became effective on June 29, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the Maryland Judiciary Office of Communications and Public Affairs.
"It's a personnel and administrative matter at the discretion of Judge Bell," judiciary office spokeswoman Angelita Plemmer said of the switch.
As administrative judge, Long said his primary duty is assigning judges to hear criminal and civil cases, as well as those in juvenile court and for children in need of assistance.
In civil trials, that means assigning judges to specific cases, and, in criminal cases, making sure the same judge is available to hear a trial lasting more than one day, he said.
Under Maryland court rules, the designation of a county administrative judge is made by the state's chief judge after considering the recommendation of the circuit's administrative judge.
Administrative judge duties include "supervision of all judges, officers, and employees of the court, including the authority to assign judges within the court," as well as the supervision and disposition of cases filed in court and control of the trial calendar, according to court rules.
Other duties include preparation of the court's budget, ordering the purchase of equipment and supplies for the court and its related services, as well as supervision of personnel.
Long said his responsibilities will also include overseeing the jury pool selected each month to hear cases and the grand jury twice a year.
In addition to those duties he, like McDowell, will have his own docket of cases to hear, Long said.
"Judge Long has established himself as a leader in the legal and greater community in Washington County," Bell said in the release. "His tremendous combination of professional legal skills, work ethic, and leadership will be a great asset, and I look forward to working with him in his new role."
Long became an assistant state's attorney in Washington County in 1979 and was elected state's attorney in 1982, serving until 2004 when he was appointed as a District Court judge, the release said. Long was appointed as a Circuit Court judge in 2005 and took the bench in 2006.
A founding member of the Washington County Child Advocacy Center, Long has been a member of the Western Maryland Children's Center Advisory Board for three years and its president since 2009, the release said.
McDowell began his judicial career as a U.S. magistrate judge for Western Maryland in 1989 and became a Circuit Court judge on May 28, 1993. He became the administrative judge in August 2008.