Maryland's highest court has slammed the breaks on Gov. Martin O'Malley's appointment of a new Prince George's County delegate to replace the ousted Tiffany Alston, reported The Washington Post.
After a circuit court judge ruled Wednesday that neither Alston nor businessman Greg Hall were eligible for Alston's District 24 seat in the Maryland House of Delegates, a higher court of appeals placed that decision on hold—delaying O'Malley from appointing a replacement immediately.
Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee (PGCDCC) Chair Terry Speigner said Wednesday that the decision was unprecedented, but the judge's ruling wasn't a surprise. The PGCDCC will have 15 days to officially withdraw Hall's name.
Although he said that both Alston and Hall could appeal, the PGCDCC would suggest someone new for O'Malley to appoint, although the committee no longer has any official say in the governor's decision.
Alston was removed from her seat after some legal troubles earlier this year. The PGCDCC originally had voted to appoint Hall to her vacant seat, but decided to recant its nomination at the request of O’Malley, who had concerns over Hall’s checkered past.
Nicole Miller, who is the former president of the county's young democrats club, said although she understands O'Malley's hesitation, Hall paid his debt to society.
"I understand the concern—a lot of the incidents that have occurred in the county are unfortunate," Miller, 35, said. "It places a black eye on the county's reputation."
However, she argued that Hall's record was from 20 years ago.
"He changed his life around," Miller, of Lanham, said. "A lot of members of that community had confidence in him to vote for him."
She noted that Hall received the second highest number of votes in District 24 during the original election when Alston won the seat.
District 22 State Sen. Paul Pinksy (D-Prince George's) said Wednesday the governor likely will vet the new appointee very carefully so there's not a similar situation.
"[Alston and Hall] can appeal, but I don’t think the governor has to withhold an appointment until it’s repealed," Pinsky added. "Their threat of appeals wouldn’t stop the process."
Although he understands that Hall rehabilitated himself, he said some people were concerned about more recent incidents with the law.
"Can people change in 10 to 15 years? Absolutely," Pinsky said. "I just don’t want our county to be embarrassed anymore. I want the best leaders. I want the new Prince George’s."
Speigner said he hopes to get the seat filled as soon as possible.
"Before Jan. 12 would be ideal," he said. "We want to make sure the district has full representation in [the] upcoming session."
The halt is temporary and gives a chance for the Maryland Court of Appeals to weigh in on the case next Wednesday, according to The Post.
But, Miller hopes if the decision remains against Hall's appointment, it doesn't deter other youth to pursue their dreams because of something they did in the past.
"We need more people my age and younger to be involved and represent our community," she said.