Surrounded by his family and those who have mentored him, Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matthew Maciarello was sworn in as Circuit Court judge in a touching and often humorous ceremony.
As his wife, Sarah, helped him on with the judge’s black robe, she smoothed the back, then, as he held his hands in the air, zipped it up the front.
“Just like every morning,” quipped Judge Thomas Groton, as the standing-room-only audience in the Historic Courtroom No. 5, in Circuit Court, broke into laughter.
“This is incredible,” Maciarello said, as he took a seat beside Groton and among other judges who sat on the bench for the investiture, or swearing in, ceremony Friday afternoon. Among them were Judges Jimmy Sarbanes, Danny Long, Kathleen Beckstead and Leah Seaton.
“I am so deeply humbled and honored and thankful that so many came out to share in this day with me and my family,” Maciarello said.
“I hope you know how deeply appreciative I am for your love, your support and your guidance. I will strive each and every day to prove myself worthy of your love and of your confidence,” he said.
He thanked his parents, saying he is “so blessed and lucky to have you, Dad and Mom.”
“They taught me my values and always demonstrated a deep and abiding love for their country, their community, their faith and their family,” he said.
His wife, he said, was pleased to serve as wife of a state’s attorney, even when it meant getting up with him very early, or being awakened in the middle of the night when the sheriff needed a search warrant.
To his sons, Jonathan and Luke, he said, “I love you to the moon and back.”
“You are the source of my strength,” he said.
Gratitude extended to lawyers who taught him, “fought me and challenged me” he said, especially remembering those who have died, including Jim Anthenelli, Sam Vincent, Bill Kerbin and Skip Townsend.
“I’m going to work very hard. I will also aspire … to treat people fairly and impartially,” he promised.
Familiar faces filled the pew seats in the courtroom, including Delegates Carl Anderton and Mary Beth Carozza, County Executive Bob Culver, County Administrator Wayne Strausburg, Wicomico County Council President John Cannon, Sheriff Mike Lewis and Worcester County Judge Theodore Eschenburg, one of Maciarello’s first advisers.
“We’ve had some extraordinary law clerks. Matt, however, was the magna cum laude of the law firm. I think that means that you’re smart,” Eschenburg joked.
“I remember we were immediately impressed with you and we hired you right away,” he said, joking that he didn’t check references but rushed along the process “so this sneaky judge right there, Danny Long, didn’t hire you.”
“It turns out it was one of the best decisions we ever made,” Eschenburg said.
He remembered taking Maciarello fishing and enjoying observing how thrilled he was with every catch. “I never touched a rod that day. Just watching you fish and watching you enjoying life became one of my best memories,” the judge said.
“This job can be very difficult at times. It can be very stressful at times. Just keep that wonderful personality of yours and you’re going to make our just fine,” he said.
To his parents, Eschenburg said, “Doggone if you don’t get two thumbs up for the way you raised him.”
Interim State’s Attorney Ella Disharoon, who will replace Maciarello, called him a loving husband and father who is “just a surfer boy at heart.”
The two met in law school and she remembered Maciarello working full time during the day, for the Department of Defense, and going to law school at night.
A multi-tasker, he soon began renovation on a home, then sat for the Delaware bar exam, passing it and extending his practice into Delaware.
In 2010 he ran for state’s attorney and has been in that position since.
“He’s always said to me that his parents raised him to be civic-minded,” Disharoon said.
Among his accomplishments, she said, was getting a new building that houses the state’s attorney’s office. One of his biggest concerns has been heroin addiction, she said, and the county now is a model for the rest of Maryland.
Calling him fair and just in court, Disharoon said his mission for the state’s attorney’s office has always been to seek justice. “His integrity is unquestionable,” she said.
“I’ve considered you to be a friend and I wish you the best of luck,” Disharoon told Maciarello, as he smiled and the audience applauded.
Rich Brueckner, assistant state’s attorney, told Maciarello, “I am so proud of you.”
“What type of judge are you getting? First of all, the characteristic his wife says she loves the most about him is his incredible energy.
“He demonstrates a true humility. He is not a know-it-all … when I asked Sarah if she would have believed she would be marrying a future judge,” he said, she recalled a date with Maciarello at the old Flying Club in Salisbury. Afterward, he returned home, researched and wrote a school paper that was due the next day.
“She was impressed. Matt got the girl,” Brueckner said.
“In Matt’s world view, it’s always better to be part of the solution than part of the problem,” Brueckner said.
Maciarello, sitting with his family, listened quietly.
Brueckner’s words were tender, as he talked about Maciarello’s deep love for his wife, the way he looks at her, speaks of her, how he is proud of the man his oldest son, Jonathan, is becoming.
“I am so pleased to present to this court, the honorable Matthew Maciarello for installation in this positon of associate judge. Congratulations,” Brueckner said to hearty applause.
Mark Bowen, clerk of the Circuit Court, swore in Maciarello.
His right hand raised, the new judge vowed to support the constitution, bear true allegiance to Maryland the support the constitution and laws thereof, to diligently and capably, without partiality or prejudice, execute the office of the associate judge of the Circuit Court.
“Thank you very much,” a beaming Maciarello said.
As the event drew to a close, Groton, sitting next to Maciarello, leaned close whispered direction.
“OK,” the newly sworn judge said, smiling.
“Court is adjourned.
Reach Susan Canfora at email@example.com.