WASHINGTON – Baltimore City Circuit Judge William Quarles took another step on the long road to a federal judgeship Wednesday, breezing through a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to the U.S. District Court for Maryland.
Quarles — who was first nominated to the district court in 1992 — should be approved quickly by the committee and sent on to the full Senate, said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., ranking minority member of the committee.
Maryland Sens. Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski, both Democrats, strongly supported Quarles at the hearing.
“He’s a wonderful and distinguished person,” Mikulski said, who recommended Quarles “without reservation and with great enthusiasm.”
“And we’re saying this about a member of the other party,” she added.
Quarles will “sustain and add to” the good reputation of the state’s federal judges, said Sarbanes.
Quarles has served on the Baltimore City Circuit Court since 1996, and has been a member of the court’s Technology Oversight Board since 1999.
He told the committee that while he “can’t wait to get to work every morning” at the city circuit court, it would be “nice to have the resources of the federal system,” including more time to spend on each case. The Baltimore Circuit is “a very busy court,” Quarles said.
“There is no routine case to the litigants or the victims,” said Quarles, explaining his judicial philosophy to the committee. It’s important that all parties in a suit leave a courtroom feeling that their matter “has received serious attention and they have had the opportunity to be heard.”
Maryland legal professionals praised the nomination.
“This is long overdue,” said Geoff Garinther, a partner at Venable, Baetjer and Howard, where Quarles used to practice. “He’s just an extraordinarily bright guy,” Garinther said, adding that Quarles is “terrifically fair.”
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy said in a statement that Quarles is “an outstanding jurist whose intelligence, legal acumen, insight and experience have been appreciated by all.”
Quarles was first nominated to the District Court bench in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush, but that nomination stalled. The current president announced his intention to nominate Quarles to the post in September 2002, but did not make that nomination official until January.
Quarles received his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland in 1976 and his law degree from Catholic University School of Law in 1979. He served in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Maryland before spending almost a decade in private practice at Venable, Baetjer and Howard.
Quarles was nominated to the seat left when Judge William Nickerson retired to senior status in June.
There is one other vacancy on the court. President Bush nominated Baltimore lawyer Richard Bennett to that post last week.