COURT NEWS: Hogan continues to put his stamp on the Maryland Judiciary; two new Circuit Court judges named in Baltimore City & Karen Dean to Circuit bench in Snow Hill


Governor Hogan Announces Three Judicial Appointments
Fills Vacancies in Baltimore City, Wicomico County 

ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan on December 17, 2020, took another step towards putting balance on the Maryland Judiciary when he announced the following judicial appointments:

  • Erik Atas for Baltimore City Circuit Court 
  • Myshala Middleton for Baltimore City Circuit Court
  • Karen Dean for Wicomico County Circuit Court


“The appointment of these qualified individuals to serve across our state’s justice system is paramount to upholding our responsibilities to the people of Maryland and the rule of law,” said Governor Hogan. “I have every confidence that Mr. Atas, Ms. Middleton, and Ms. Dean will continue to be strong advocates for the law and will serve the citizens of Maryland honorably.”

Erik Atas has worked with the firm of Zirkin & Schmerling Law since 2013, with a practice primarily focused on criminal defense. His civil practice primarily involves personal injury cases, protection orders and peace orders, and administrative hearings for Motor Vehicle Administration matters. He regularly works with nonprofit drug treatment programs and women’s shelters on a pro bono basis to help people of limited financial means expunge their criminal records.

Prior to joining Zirkin & Schmerling Law, Atas worked as a public defender in Baltimore City for six years. In this role, he primarily defended clients charged with misdemeanors and traffic offenses in both district and circuit courts.

He received his B.A. from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and his J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Myshala Middleton has served as an assistant chief counsel in the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor at the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, since 2018. In this role, she litigates removal proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Prior to this position, she worked as an assistant attorney general in the Contract Litigation Unit, as well as in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.


She also served as an assistant state’s attorney for Baltimore City for six years, where she handled cases across felony trials, misdemeanor jury trials, and juvenile divisions, and prosecuted cases in both district and circuit courts. Middleton served as a law clerk to the Honorable Lynn Stewart Mays, Circuit Court for Baltimore City, from 2010 to 2011.

She received her B.A. in anthropology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and her J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Karen Dean has been a prosecutor with the Worcester County State’s Attorney Office for nearly two years. She is currently assigned to the Circuit Court Division, handling primarily juvenile, child abuse, and sexual assault cases. She serves as the prosecutor liaison for the community of Berlin and advises the Child Advocacy Center. Dean previously served as deputy state’s attorney for Somerset County and senior assistant state’s attorney for Wicomico County.

In 2011, she was appointed as a magistrate in Wicomico County, a position she eventually vacated to return to prosecution. From 2001 to 2007, Dean was an active member of the Mount Vernon Fire Department, where she was an EMT and a firefighter.

She received her B.S. from the University of Delaware and her J.D. and Master of Studies in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School.  


ASA Karen Dean and I had a great visit with this young gentleman today! Rhett is a huge fan of law enforcement and his mom told us he wanted to “meet the ladies who put the bad guys in jail”. Mission accomplished!!
From the Facebook page of Worcester County States Attorney.


Stepmother tears into child molester in court; Assistant States Attorney Karen Dean apologizes to court for outburst for ‘unprepared’ witness


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