Judge Raley to Retire After Nearly 30 Years - Southern Maryland Headline News

Judge Raley to Retire After Nearly 30 Years

By Guy Leonard, The County Times

Retiring Circuit Court Judge C. Clarke Raley in his earlier years.
HOLLYWOOD, Md. — Circuit Court Judge C. Clarke Raley confirmed this week that he will retire from the bench after a long career as one of the county’s most well-known jurists.

Raley, 67, declined a lengthy interview with The County Times, but still shared some of the characteristic humor he has been noted for. “I’ll be retiring April 30 and that’s the beginning and the end of the story,” Raley said. “I think that’s the longest interview I’ve given the newspaper.”

Rumors about Raley’s retirement had been circulating for months among employees and lawyers at the Leonardtown courthouse and some wondered if Raley would wait until the mandatory age of 70 to leave the bench instead of choosing to step down.

Raley’s retirement opens the opportunity for local lawyers to apply for his seat because he is leaving before the next election; Gov. Martin O’Malley’s office has said that they have not started the application process for names to be appointed to Raley’s post.

But lawyers in Leonardtown have already said privately that they may seek Raley’s position, and several other lawyers names have been whispered as potential candidates.

Raley is known for being a tough jurist who jealously guards his prerogative for sentencing of defendants, sometimes chiding their attorneys for their suggestions of what sentence their client should receive.

Raley often eschewed plea deals, preferring instead to try cases in front of a jury; he also had little to no patience for antics or outbursts from defendants.

Perhaps the most recent and famous case is that of accused bank robber Antonio Gantt, who Raley had literally gagged with duct tape for outbursts last year during his trial.

Gantt will receive a new trial because the higher court ruled that he was not informed he would receive life without parole for robbing the same bank twice in 2007.

Raley recused himself from the new trial, saying that he actually hated Gantt and believed that the Court of Appeals made a mistake in giving him a new trial.

Oliver “Skip” Stewart, a sheriff’s deputy working courthouse security, said that as both a county state’s attorney and as a judge, Raley was just as tough on law enforcement.

“He always made us make sure we had our case together,” Steward said of his more than 30 years of working with Raley. “He’s been short, sweet, to the point and no nonsense. “He doesn’t take any foolishness off the criminals.”

John Getz, senior public defender for the county, said that Raley’s replacement would have their work cut out for them.

“The county will be losing its most experienced jurist,” Getz said. “He’s fair and impartial and he will be missed.”

State’s Attorney Richard Fritz said that whoever takes over the position would have a heavy reputation to live up to.

“He’s an excellent judge, he’s fair to the defense and he’s fair to the state and he runs his court in an efficient manner,” Fritz said. “He gives appropriate sentences to defendants in the most severe types of cases and he has a dry wit that I’m going to miss … He’s going to be hard to replace.”

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