Sue Ann Lewis Armitage
Buffy Nicole Giddens
Amy Danielle Lorenzini

By Kenneth C. Rossignol


LEONARDTOWN, MD. – There is an old saying in politics that making law and public policy is akin to making sausage; it is a messy process and not a pleasant matter for the public to view. In St. Mary’s County, a process begins to choose an applicant to recommend to Governor Larry Hogan to fill a vacant position. Ironically, this committee will be composed of mostly all lawyers, a judges’ wife, and amazingly, an authentic sausage-maker.

With the retirement of Circuit Court Judge David Densford, an elite group of people that comprise a judicial selection committee was set to meet on January 5, 2022, to pick a winner and set aside the rest of the applicants as also-rans.  The meeting was postponed due to inclement weather even though school buses were out and successfully kept kids going to school. Just not good weather for lawyers and sausage makers.


Generally, the committee’s selection is rubber-stamped by the Governor of Maryland, but not always. After all, the Governor gets to pick who serves on the committee.

Should the committee select a candidate from the pool of lawyers who all believe they should be the new Circuit Court Judge that fails to meet with the approval of the Governor, the panel is advised to send up a new candidate for the Governor’s consideration.  In other words, keep at it until the correct name pops up.

What is the difference between a jury trial and a bench trial?

There is a big difference for an accused person or litigants in a civil dispute.  The Judge sits along in judgment in a bench trial, while a jury of one’s peers, selected at random from voter rolls and then seated by a system of challenges provided to each side. 

A jury is far more likely to consider more factors in a case than a judge trained to apply the elements of the law.  A jury can nullify a law by their verdict when the law appears to be offensive, lacking any common sense or mercy.  The term “jury nullification” is used to describe the way a jury can sometimes find justice in a way that perplexes the legal community.

In other words, always choose a jury trial unless your attorney has bribed the judge.

This judge selection committee profile indicates that the average citizen is not represented, but instead, the group is of, by, and for the legal community.

Who Selects a New Judge for St. Mary’s Circuit Court?

The commission is appointed by the Governor of Maryland and comprises attorneys, including a couple of citizens and non-practicing attorneys. The pool of approved candidates is then forwarded to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who then chooses. Then the real fun starts when a lawyer files to run against the appointed judge.

The judge can then set up a campaign committee and collect big bucks from trial lawyers, bankers and many others who will occasionally have business come before the court and it’s all legal. Some think this system stinks and the campaign finance aspect of the election of judges should be reformed, as per this editorial by a former judge.

In a civil case a few years ago over which Judge Densford presided, he frustrated one of the litigants by repeatedly telling him that he couldn’t refer to the bank that Chuck Kimball claimed had stolen his property by foreclosing against him when he in fact had made his payments. That bank, Maryland Bank & Trust, and it’s officials had made multiple campaign donations to Densford.



Sue Ann Lewis Armitage

St. Mary’s Assistant States Attorney Buffy Giddens

Buffy Nicole Giddens

Amy Danielle Lorenzini

Alfred Shane Mattingly

Daniel Aaron Martin Slade

Daniel A. M. Slade

Marsha Lynette Williams

 The new judge is sworn in as a Circuit Court Judge and must stand for election within two years.

Qualifications of a Judge

The qualifications of a judge fall into two quite distinct categories: (1) legal and (2) professional and personal.

The Constitution of Maryland specifies those in the first category (Art. I, § 12; Art. IV, § 2). The legal qualifications for appointed judges are:

  1. U.S. and Maryland citizenship.
  2. Registration to vote in State elections at the time of appointment.
  3. Residence in the State for at least five years.
  4. Residence, for at least six months next preceding appointment, in the geographic area where the vacancy exists.
  5. Age of at least 30 at the time of appointment.
  6. Membership in the Maryland Bar.

The Constitution also speaks generally of the second category of qualifications, by providing that those selected for judgeships shall be lawyers “most distinguished for integrity, wisdom and sound legal knowledge.”


Maria Isabel Icaza Esq., Chair

Maria Icaza owns four Dunkin’ Donuts franchises in Southern Maryland and practiced international law in Panama before moving to Maryland. Her husband, Glenn Heisler, whom she met in law school at the New England School of Law in Boston, is the resident agent for her firm, The Dunkirk Group LLC, which operates the Dunkin Donuts stores in Charlotte Hall, California, Md., Leonardtown, and Prince Frederick. According to the Maryland Judiciary, neither Icaza nor Heisler is listed as attorneys in Maryland.  Glenn Heisler is an attorney for the Federal Government working at the Patuxent River Naval Air Warfare Center at Pax River, Md.  According to the Massachusetts Bar, his status in Massachusetts shows he was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1990. His status now is Administrative Suspension for Non-Registration, and that he does not carry Malpractice Insurance. That ought to give pause to Navy sailors who ask him for advice. There are no public disciplines on his record in Massachusetts.  Icaza and her family live in the Wildewood area of St. Mary’s County.  Icaza’s only involvement with a Maryland court was paying a speeding ticket provided her by a Calvert County Deputy in 2019 as she operated a Lexus on Rt. 4 in Calvert County. Did it occur to her that a dozen donuts might make the ticket go away?

Frank J. Grasso

Frank J. Grasso is active in the Republican Party in Calvert County. His wife Catherine is a Republican leader and an elected member of the Republican Central Committee for Calvert County. The Grasso’s live in Dunkirk. Catherine Grasso has announced but not yet filed for County Commissioner to oppose incumbent GOP Commissioner Kelly McConkey. The Calvert County GOP Central Committee and others filed suit against McConkey for failing to abstain on a vote to include a property he owns in Huntingtown, in the Huntingtown Town Center. What would local politics be without such controversy as zoning votes anyway?


Christopher T. Longmore, Esq.

Christopher T. Longmore is a founding member of the law firm of Dugan, McKissick, and Longmore in California, Md.  Longmore specializes in the practice of land use and zoning issues and is the son-in-law of three-term former Democrat St. Mary’s County Commissioner Daniel Raley. Longmore’s late father, Abell Longmore, was the longtime operator of the old Ben Franklin in Leonardtown, located in the heart of the downtown in a building now occupied by the Post Office. Longmore’s mother-in-law, Ann, is no slouch herself in local politics, serving on the St. Mary’s Election Board where Democrats are perplexed at not being able to convince the public to vote for them like they did in the heydays of Jim Crow. More early voting centers and mail in ballots might do the trick. Longmore’s law partner, Bryan Dugan out-polled St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz in the GOP primary in 2014 when both men attempted to oust incumbent Circuit Court Judge Karen Abrams. Abrams was victorious in both the Democrat and Republican primaries, as under Maryland law, a judge is required to run in both party primaries and independents are left out in the cold and can’t vote at all. An attempt to change the law failed because Democrats like things just the way they are and proved that when it comes to voter supression, the phony Democrat party liberals don’t mind voter suppression of unaffiliated voters.

John B. Norris III, Esq.

John B. Norris III is the County Attorney for Calvert County and the former County Attorney for St. Mary’s County.  Norris comes from a multi-generational family of farmers. Before starting his engineering firm, NGO, his late father was the County Engineer and Director of Public Works for St. Mary’s County.

Leslie Florestano Peek, Esq.

Leslie Florestano Peek practices criminal law in Calvert County and is a public defender. Peek was one of the pool of lawyers vying for appointment to the bench in Calvert County in 2018. Peek was a member of the Maryland Judicial Campaign Conduct Committee formed in 2016 to act as watchdogs for campaign practices when sitting judges stand for election. Her resume with that group was as follows: Assistant Public Defender (Upper Marlboro); Member, Board of Directors, Calvert County Bar Association; Member, Peer Review Committee, Attorney Grievance Commission; Member, Board of Directors, Calvert Alliance Against Substance Abuse; resident of Calvert County. The group listed the following as their purpose: to promote civil and dignified conduct in judicial elections.  At the root of the Committee’s concern is maintaining the dignity of judicial office and both the fact and appearance of judicial impartiality. Every litigant has a right guaranteed by the Constitution’s Due Process clause. Translated: the group desires to take all the fun of mudslinging out of judicial elections and maintain dignity, which often is simply a veneer.  Thankfully, the voters seemed to ignore the group in past elections. Lots of the lawyers don’t like the voters having any say in the selection of judges as they know what is best for everyone else.

Stacey M. Rappaport

Stacey M. Rappaport is the mother of three children and lives in Calvert County with her husband, Circuit Court Judge Andrew Rappaport.  How many applicants will kiss up to the Judge in open court or tell his wife that her oyster stew was the best at a recent holiday party when it may have tasted as it came out of a can?

John E. Ray, Esq.

John E. Ray is a La Plata Maryland attorney, a Partner at Mudd Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A., handles criminal law, domestic relations, bankruptcy, and military law cases. His LinkedIn profile states that he was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1989 and the federal bench in 1997 and has been the Franchise Owner Batteries Plus Bulbs, California, Maryland since 2018. Ray served in the U. S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps from 1990 to 1993 in the Norfolk area and with the Office of Public Defender in Charles County from 1993 to 1997.

Captain Stephen Schmeiser

Stephen Schmeiser is a retired Navy Captain and former commanding officer of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St. Mary’s County.  Since retiring from the Navy, Schmeiser has worked as an operations manager for Northrup Grumman at Pax River. According to his LinkedIn resume, he graduated from the Naval Test Pilot School, Johns Hopkins and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and College of the Holy Cross. Captain Schmeiser is another in a long line of Navy Captains whose careers were going nowhere and ended up assigned to be the CO at Pax River. Ask Capt. Stu Fitrell, he’ll agree, and believe it or not, he is still kicking. A nice guy, Stu was one of the best and made the Airport Commission a lot more fun. The consolation prize for Pax River COs is getting one of the nice-paying defense contractor jobs and having local politicians kiss up.

Alycia E. Stack, Esq.

Alycia Stack practices family law, from divorce, child representation, and best interest issues, and advocates for children. She is a ten-year St.  Mary’s County resident originally from the Midwest. With one of her law partners getting free advertising for the all-women firm by being an applicant, even though she doesn’t have a Chinaman’s chance in hell of being selected, she would be expected to recuse herself from sitting on the panel, but this is St. Mary’s County. Even the Good Old Gals can act like the Good Old Boys.

Kyle B. Tores, Esq.

Kyle Tores has been an assistant States Attorney in Calvert County since 2011, after a short stint in private practice.  Tores has yet to do anything to rate any commentary in this article.


David A. Weiskopf, Esq.

St. Mary’s County Attorney David Weiskopf has been in private practice, worked as a public defender, and as an assistant county attorney before being appointed to the post of County Attorney. Weiskopf teaches business law at the University of Maryland University College.  Weiskopf’s main attribute in the legal community is to keep the loony St. Mary’s County Commissioners from being indicted or otherwise held in low esteem by the voters.

Wayne-Wrenn, photo from LinkedIn

Garland Wayne Wrenn

Wrenn is the operations manager of Encore Sausage Company, a family venture with roots that began by Nick Ferrante in Clinton, Md, in the 1960s.  Wrenn has been represented successfully by Prince Frederick attorney Nicholas Joseph Ferrante in litigation with Rahul Grover in St. Mary’s District Court in 2014 when Leonardtown attorney and judge applicant Daniel Aaron Martin Slade was the attorney for the defendant Grover in a civil action.  Wren brings the most colorful attributes to this committee. He is a number one operations manager with the sausage outfit and is the Chief Sausage Maker of his company and this political process to choose a new Judge in St. Mary’s County.

Leonardtown resident Michael B. Suessmann attempted to change Maryland Election law to allow independents to vote in Judicial Elections

St. Mary’s County Circuit Courthouse Leonardtown. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY

Voters unaffiliated with either of the principal political parties make up approximately 14 percent of registered voters statewide. They also comprise approximately 15 percent of voters in St. Mary’s County

LEONARDTOWN, MD — The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland on March 4, 2004, took over an expedited election lawsuit challenging the state’s practice of excluding unaffiliated voters from participation in judicial primaries.

“We are simply unable to conceive of any state interest that justifies denial of the vote to unaffiliated voters in a non-partisan election like this,” said ACLU staff attorney David Rocah, lead counsel in the case. “Every registered voter has the right to vote for the judges who will enforce the rule of law in their counties.”

The lawsuit, filed last week in St. Mary’s County — and scheduled for a hearing this Friday before a special three-judge court — asks that the court block certification of today’s judicial election results in St. Mary’s and Anne Arundel Counties; to schedule new judicial primaries open to all registered voters in those counties; and to order statewide change in the procedures for conducting judicial primaries in the future.

The ACLU contends that in elections for non-partisan offices, such as judicial offices, the state is constitutionally required to let all registered voters participate in the primary election, regardless of party affiliation. The ACLU lawsuit goes on to state that the right to vote, even in a primary, is a fundamental right, which can only be denied for the most compelling reasons.

The current system’s disenfranchisement of independent voters is not minimal, the ACLU noted. According to State Board of Election figures, voters unaffiliated with either of the principal political parties make up approximately 14 percent of registered voters statewide. They also comprise approximately 15 percent of voters in St. Mary’s County, 16 percent in Anne Arundel and Frederick Counties, and 11 percent in Baltimore County — all of which held contested judicial primaries today.

Today’s ACLU action expands a lawsuit filed February 23 by St. Mary’s County resident Michael B. Suessmann, on behalf of himself and approximately 6,000 independent voters in that county.

Acting independently last month, the ACLU had asked the State Board of Elections on behalf of residents in several counties to acknowledge the constitutional flaws in the current system, and to permit independent voters statewide to cast ballots today in non-partisan judicial elections. The Board declined, leading to the present litigation.

The plaintiffs are represented by David R. Rocah, Deborah A. Jeon, and Richard D. Griffiths of the ACLU of Maryland Foundation.

Litigation in Circuit Court presided over by Judge David Densford involving his campaign contributors

Judge Densford repeatedly told the litigants that Maryland Bank was not to be referred to in the case each time they tried to explain what led to the case being filed. Judge Densford failed to disclose to the parties that he had received campaign contributions from Maryland Bank and Trust officials when he ran for election.

Dr. Ngozika J. Nwaneri vs. Kimball
Circuit Court for St. Mary’s County, Md. Case # 18C15000489 
(Interested party according to Court Records: Old Line Bank / atty Mark W. Schweitzer)

09/16/2016 Entered Date: 09/16/2016 Decision:

Document Name:            Open Court Proceeding

Recorded: CourtSmart Plaintiff and Counsel present, Defendant left prior to hearing. Today’s dispute is between plaintiff and counsel regarding fees. Case is passed to give time for parties to talk. Later: Counsel still maintains request to withdraw appearance. Plaintiff is in disagreement and doesn’t want counsel to withdraw. Court grants the request of counsel and has hearing removed from the docket on 10/04/16 and 10/05/16. Court orders plaintiff to contact the court regarding scheduling of status conference for either 11/17/16 or 01/06/17. Order to be prepared by the court.

Doc No./Seq No.:             33/0

File Date:             09/21/2016
Entered Date: 09/21/2016
Decision: Granted

Document Name:            Order – Motion for Leave to Withdraw as Counsel is granted

Copies delivered to all counsel

(Note: First dollar figure is the cumulative amount, the second is the donation on that date.)

Charles Kimball’s attorney, Marc K. Cohen, who was paid $5,000 by Maryland Bank & Trust to make the secret deal between Kimball and Thomas Watts / Maryland Bank

03/27/2012 Cohen, Marc K.

17684 Driftwood Lane, Tall Timbers, MD 20690-2013

… $150.00 Check $150.00

Tom Daugherty, left, and Jack Rue at Governors Cup race event at St. Mary’s College of Maryland at St. Mary’s City. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

G. Thomas Daugherty, Chairman of the Board of Maryland Bank & Trust, stockholder in Old Line Bank

(From Old Line Bank website)
G. Thomas Daugherty, 70, was the President of Maryland Bankcorp and Maryland Bank & Trust from 2001 through April 1, 2011 when they merged into Old Line Bancshares, Inc. and Old Line Bank, respectively. He was a Director of Maryland Bank & Trust Company from 1995 through the April 1, 2011 effective date of the merger. From 1977 to 2001, Mr. Daugherty was an attorney specializing in real estate and business law. He is a member of the Maryland Bar Association and the District of Columbia Bar Association. He holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore, a BA from the College of William and Mary, and an AA from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He has served as Vice President of St. Mary’s College of Maryland Foundation and is trustee emeritus of the Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Additional prior community activities include the St. Mary’s County Economic Development Commission, the Lexington Park Redevelopment Commission, and he served 12 years (including four years as President) of the St. Mary’s County Housing Authority Board. He is currently a member of the Southern Maryland Navy Alliance, and the Lexington Park Rotary Club. As a current member of the Old Line Bank Board, he serves on the Asset and Liability Committee. The Board of Directors of Old Line Bancshares and Old Line Bank believes that Mr. Daugherty’s qualifications to serve on the boards of Old Line Bancshares and Old Line Bank include his many years of banking experience, his community contacts, and his knowledge of the former Maryland Bank & Trust’s customer base and market area.

02/07/2012 Daugherty, G. Thomas

46619 Millstone Landing Rd., Lexington Park, MD 20653

… $250.00 Check $250.00

07/24/2012 Mayjack, Inc. (company owned by Daugherty)

P.O. Box 236, Lexington Park, MD


… $500.00 Check $500.00

10/23/2012 Mayjack, Inc.

P.O. Box 236, Lexington Park, MD 20653

… $1,625.00 Check $1,125.00

10/10/2012 The Daugherty LLC (Owned by George Thomas Daugherty)

P.O. Box 948, California, MD 20619

… $1,000.00 Ticket Purchases Check $250.00 $500.00

Frank E. Taylor, Board of Directors of Maryland Bank & Trust & Old Line Bank

Frank Taylor, 66, has been the President of Taylor Gas Company, Inc., a family business founded in 1950 that markets propane throughout the lower part of Southern Maryland, since 1982. He served on the Board of Directors for Maryland Bank and Trust Company, N.A. from 1995 until its merger with Old Line Bank in 2011. He previously served on the Board of Governors of the Calvert Marine Museum and currently serves on their Finance Committee. He has also served on a variety of other Boards and Commissions including the United States Navy League, St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission, Three Oaks Center, Mid-Atlantic Propane Gas Association, National Propane Gas Association, St. Mary’s County Chamber of Commerce and The St. Mary’s County Planning Commission, and is a member of Leadership Southern Maryland Class of 2016. He began serving on the Board of Directors of Old Line Bancshares, Inc. and Old Line Bank in 2011 and is currently a member of the Audit and Risk Committees. The Board of Directors believes his qualifications to serve as a director include his extensive community banking experience as a director as well as his experience on numerous other Boards. His extensive knowledge of Old Line Bank’s Southern Maryland market and familiarity with businesses located in that area provides invaluable insight with regard to future planning and strategic development in that market.

08/18/2012 Taylor, Frank E.

21651 Rose Bank Road, Leonardtown, MD 20650

 … $50.00 Ticket Purchases Check $25.00 $50.00 # of Tickets: 2

10/18/2012 Taylor, Frank E.

21651 Rose Bank Road, Leonardtown, MD 20650

… $550.00 Ticket Purchases Check $250.00 $500.00

Attorney J. Ernest Bell certified the sale for the Circuit Court

02/15/2012 Bell, Anne D.

P.O. Box 362, Leonardtown, MD 20650

… $250.00 Check $250.00

02/15/2012 Bell, II, Joseph E.

P.O. Box 362, Leonardtown, MD 20650

… $250.00 Check $250.00

06/07/2012 Bell, II, Joseph E.

P.O. Box 362, Leonardtown, MD 20650

… $750.00 Check $500.00

 08/15/2012 Bell, Anne D.

P.O. Box 362, Leonardtown, MD 20650

… $275.00 Ticket Purchases Cash $25.00 $25.00

# of Tickets: 1

08/15/2012 Bell, II, Joseph E.

P.O. Box 362, Leonardtown, MD 20650

… $775.00 Ticket Purchases Cash $25.00 $25.00

Michael Whitson Conducted the Foreclosure Auction of the Kimball property / Hotel / Restaurant / Chesapeake Stafford / performed title search on property

01/31/2012 Tri-County Abstract Inc.

P.O. Box 377, Leonardtown, MD 20650


… $500.00 Check $500.00

08/15/2012 Tri-County Abstract Inc.

P.O. Box 377, Leonardtown, MD 20650


… $700.00 Check $200.00

08/15/2012 Tri-County Abstract Inc.

P.O. Box 377, Leonardtown, MD 20650


… $750.00 Ticket Purchases Check $25.00 $50.00

10/26/2012 Tri-County Abstract Inc.

P.O. Box 377, Leonardtown, MD 20650


… $500.00 Check $250.00

Family of Judge Densford / link to First National Bank of St. Mary’s

06/22/2012 Broun, Dorothy L.

506 W. Broadway, Silver City, NM 88061

… $4,000.00 Check $4,000.00

02/02/2012 Densford, James

2471 Rimrock Terrace, Penrose, CO 81240

… $20.00 Electronic Fund



02/04/2012 Densford, James

2471 Rimrock Terrace, Penrose, CO 81240

… $880.13 Check $860.13

02/13/2012 Densford, James

2471 Rimrock Terrace, Penrose, CO 81240

… $2,880.13 Check $2,000.00

01/25/2012 Densford, Joseph R.

18135 Holly Drive, St. Inigoes, MD 20684

… $500.00 Check $500.00

02/06/2012 Densford, Joseph R.

18135 Holly Drive, St. Inigoes, MD 20684

… $1,500.00 Check $1,000.00

02/10/2012 Densford, Joseph R.

18135 Holly Drive, St. Inigoes, MD 20684

… $3,000.00 Check $500.00

02/10/2012 Densford, Joseph R.

18135 Holly Drive, St. Inigoes, MD 20684

… $2,500.00 Check $1,000.00

08/13/2012 Densford, Joseph R.

18135 Holly Drive, St. Inigoes, MD 20684

… $3,050.00 Ticket Purchases

Check $25.00 $50.00

# of Tickets: 2

09/24/2012 Densford, Margaret E.

18135 holly road, St. Inigoes, MD 20684

… $1,100.00 Ticket Purchases

Check $250.00 $500.00 # of Tickets: 2

09/24/2012 Densford, Margaret E.

18135 holly road, St. Inigoes, MD 20684

… $1,100.00 Ticket Purchases Check

Concerns about a Maryland Judge

The Commission on Judicial Disabilities is an independent body with the power to investigate complaints against Maryland judges and, when warranted, conduct hearings about complaints and take certain actions or recommend other actions to the Court of Appeals. Contact the commission if you have questions or complaints about the conduct of a Maryland judge.

Contact the Commission on Judicial Disabilities

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