ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Gov. Martin O’Malley is now weighing candidates to replace Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, who retires from Maryland’s highest court in July.

The Daily Record of Baltimore reports the Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission sent the names of five applicants for the seat on the Court of Appeals to O’Malley on Thursday. O’Malley can select a candidate from the commission’s list or disregard the slate.

A spokeswoman for the governor, Takirra Winfield, says O’Malley will begin interviewing candidates for Bell’s seat during the week of July 1, but no date has been set for an announcement of the pick.

Bell hits the mandatory retirement age of 70 on July 6. He has served on the seven-member court since 1991. He became chief judge in 1996.

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