Baltimore City residents elected a new candidate to the city’s Orphan’s Court in November, but under orders of the Maryland governor, she may not take office.

While city voters selected Laudette Ramona Moore Baker for an uncontested slot on the three-judge bench, state voters in the same election approved a referendum barring non-lawyers, like Baker, from holding the position.

The discrepancy prompted Gov. Martin O’Malley to seek a legal opinion from Attorney General Douglas Gansler who concluded in an advisory opinion that seating her would violate the state constitution.

“ advice is that she is no longer qualified based on the outcome of the election,” attorney general spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said.

O’Malley, as governor, must issue a special commission before a candidate-elect can be sworn in, and as of Jan. 7, he hadn’t sent one to Baker.

And he probably won’t, according to governor spokesman Shaun Adamec.

“The attorney general has advised that a commission not be issued and the governor will follow the guidance of the attorney general,” Adamec told the AFRO.

Baker has placed several calls to the Governor’s Office and even wrote a letter, she said, but her inquires have either gone unanswered, or representatives have told her they have no information.

It wasn’t until a reporter told Baker about Adamec’s comments Jan. 3 that she learned the probable outcome of her swearing-in.

“The commission involves me, not the media,” she said. “It’s a matter of respect. It’s not like he doesn’t know who I am. I’m not a new kid on the block; I’m not a new candidate.”

She said the governor swore her in as a member of the Democratic State Central Committee last November.

Guillory says the only way the candidate-elect can oppose the decision is to sue the state, but Baker wouldn’t reveal her next steps.

“I cannot answer those questions because I don’t have the information from him,” she said of O’Malley. “I believe that it’s only fair because people voted me in so he should let the voters know .”

She said Adamec’s statement that she won’t be sworn-in is just “innuendo and speculation” until she personally hears from O’Malley.

“I can still be sworn in…the governor has the pen to do that,” she said.

If he opts not to, O’Malley must name a replacement, according to the attorney general’s office.

During the general election, voters reinstated incumbents Joyce M. Baylor-Thompson and Lewyn Scott Garrett as the other two Orphan’s Court judges. Both are lawyers in good standing with the Maryland Bar.

 

Shernay Williams

Special to the AFRO