Friday, January 12, 2018

By Brian Witte

The chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland is criticizing Gov. Larry Hogan's appointment of Worcester County's state's attorney to be a circuit court judge because the prosecutor's office is part of a federal racial discrimination lawsuit. But the governor's spokeswoman says the appointee is no longer specifically named in the case and was recommended by a state commission.

Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Baltimore Democrat, said Thursday the caucus will discuss Beau Oglesby's appointment next week. The caucus had been scheduled to take up the appointment during a meeting on Thursday, but the meeting was postponed due to weather. While Glenn noted that the lawsuit hasn't been resolved, she said she's surprised Hogan appointed someone whose office has such allegations swirling around it.

“I'm just surprised that he would make such a critical appointment of such a person with that background, with these issues,” said Glenn, the caucus chair. “This is not 1950s Mississippi.”

Amelia Chasse, Hogan's spokeswoman, noted that a federal judge dismissed Oglesby as an individual defendant. Oglesby also was recommended by the Judicial Nominating Commission, and has bipartisan support from prosecutors and law enforcement officials across the state, she said.

Hogan, a Republican, announced the appointment last week. Oglesby, a Republican, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

The lawsuit says Oglesby read aloud versions of a racial epithet used by others in front of black officers when reviewing letters seized as evidence in a criminal investigation three years ago. The Washington Post reported Oglesby wrote in a 2014 statement that while reading the letters he “offered for anyone offended by these words the opportunity to leave the meeting without needing to offer an explanation why.”

A Pocomoke City police officer filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against Oglesby over the use of the language. The complaint is part of a larger case relating to how black police officers were treated on the job in the Eastern Shore town. The federal lawsuit is pending.