Candidates Discuss Their Plans For Office - Judge Of The Orphans' Court


In our May edition, we featured a Meet the Candidates segment with bios on the people running for office. With early voting for the primary election starting on July 7 and Election Day scheduled for July 19, we asked the candidates about their priorities and experience.

While not every candidate could respond, we hope the responses we collected will inform voters headed to the polls this month. Some responses have been edited due to space limitations.

Judge of the Orphans’ Court

Maureen Carr-York

What would be your three priorities if you return to the Orphans’ Court?

  1. Maintain our tradition of service and caring relationship with the residents of Anne Arundel County.
  2. Improve the time between filing of pleadings and date of hearing or other action. Like all Maryland’s courts, we are still catching up with delays created by mandatory suspension of in-person hearings during COVID-19 restrictions.
  3. Continue to develop creative ways to meet the needs of our county’s families during difficult times. For instance, we continued to come into the courthouse to manage those matters that could be handled without a hearing even when most state and county employees were not in their offices. By doing so, we minimized the delays which would otherwise have occurred in getting the needed documents into the hands of those managing their loved ones’ estates.

What is the greatest challenge you would face?

As with all of our courts, we face challenges related to increased use of the courts and a need to streamline the process while still being fully responsive in meeting the needs of everyone from citizens handling small estates on their own to attorneys challenging each other over multimillion-dollar estates.

What sets you apart from others running for this office?

Three things set me apart:

  1. Of all the individuals running in this primary, I am the only one who is a lawyer in good standing in the State of Maryland. I have been a member of the bar for over 40 years and bring to this job all of that experience with the law and the court system that the other candidates lack.
  2. I am also a nurse and have witnessed firsthand the struggles of families facing the loss of a loved one.
  3. Finally, I am the chair of the statewide Conference of Orphans’ Court Judges, a body appointed by the chief judge of the Court of Appeals.

David Duba

What would be your three priorities upon joining the Orphans' Court?

My first priority will be to ensure that the court is accessible to all. With the support of my colleagues, I hope to offer an afternoon or early evening session of the Orphans’ Court and host the session on Zoom. This will ensure that working people and those with transportation challenges can access the court more easily.

My second priority will be to ensure that the court is efficient and accessible as we arrange hearings, issue decisions and make documents available. People coming to the court are often dealing with a tragedy and I will work to ensure they have a pleasant experience. My final priority will be to develop a solid working relationship with my colleagues on the court and at the Office of the Register of Wills. Regardless of who wins the election in November, we must work together to effectively serve the people of Anne Arundel County.

What would be the greatest challenge you would face in this office?

An Orphans’ Court judge must be able to listen and understand families, who are often coming to the court after the loss of a loved one and might be in conflict. It will be a challenge to strive for neutrality and justice during these conflicts. As a judge, I will seek to counter any biases that might sway a decision and approach rulings with fairness. Through this process, I will work closely with my fellow judges to issue rulings in a collaborative fashion.

What aspect of your background or your experience sets you apart from others running for this office?

As a teacher, I consistently work to serve young people who often come into the classroom with real struggles going on at home and in their lives. I am trained to listen and understand their needs and to help them to succeed. I must continually make my classroom accessible while helping students to learn, regardless of their background or challenges outside the classroom.

In the same way, I will work to make the Orphans’ Court of Anne Arundel County accessible to all, a place where all people can be heard and understood, and a place where people know they will receive an unbiased and fair ruling. Additionally, as a child of divorced parents who has navigated family conflict throughout my entire life, I believe I can understand the conflict within families and seek to reach fair and just compromises.

Marc Knapp

What would be your three priorities upon joining the Orphans' Court?

I’m an attorney who’s appeared in court a number of times. While waiting for my case to be called, I’ve seen individuals who appear pro se (not represented by an attorney) be bullied by their opponents’ attorneys and given short shrift by judges. Neither will happen when I’m on the bench.

I think that accessibility is important. Not everyone who comes before a court lives locally. Having to fly cross-country and stay in hotels in order to have their day in court is burdensome for many. I’ll push for Zoom sessions and evening sessions to make it easier for everyone to attend.

What would be the greatest challenge you would face in this office?

I expect that expanding access as described above will be received with pushback, possibly from court staff and possibly from other judges. Overcoming ingrained institutional resistance to change is challenging for all organizations.

What aspect of your background or your experience sets you apart from others running for this office?

I’m an attorney. That’s not a requirement for this job, but I think it helps when it comes to understanding the law when the law, as opposed to equity, is at issue – and the laws that govern trusts and estates can be complex.

Although I’m an attorney, I didn’t make my living practicing law. I worked in finance – both banking and corporate. Not every matter that comes before the Orphans’ Court requires a graduate degree in finance to unravel, but some do, and I have both the education and experience to handle them.

I’m retired. I’m beyond career considerations. I’m not going to use this position as a stepping stone, neither as something to add to my resume nor by doling out patronage.

Tony McConkey

What would be your three priorities upon joining the Orphans' Court?

My priorities are easier access, fair application of the laws, and judicial accountability. Legislation was passed in 2021 to study the modernization and reform of the court, and I want to speed implementation of new technologies to make in-person and online access easier, and the court more user-friendly. Also, I support the fair application of all the laws; judges should not be able to nullify laws they don't like, and the public should have a way to measure judicial performance at election time. I support the governor's efforts in the 2022 legislative session to provide a judicial scorecard for educating voters.

What would be the greatest challenge you would face in this office?

My efforts to modernize the court would be the biggest challenge, because many of the changes would have to be implemented statewide, but with the 2021 legislation, there appears to be more statewide support for reform.

What aspect of your background or your experience sets you apart from others running for this office?

I have had the unique privilege of representing Anne Arundel County in the Maryland General Assembly for 16 years, with most of that time spent working on policy and budget matters for all the courts throughout Maryland, including the Anne Arundel County Orphans' Court. Also, my work experience outside of politics is in real estate, which is a large focus of the court.

Thomas Angelis, Vickie Gipson, Nancy Phelps and Alan Rzepkowski could not be reached.


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