From left, Montgomery County Circuit Court judges Carlos Acosta, Theresa Chernosky, Kathleen Dumais and Rachel McGuckian. Credit: File photos

Editor’s note: Bethesda Beat is publishing a series of stories highlighting local races for county, state, and federal elected offices in the Nov. 8 general election. Today’s story focuses on the race for Montgomery County Circuit Court judge.

Four incumbent Montgomery County Circuit Court judges are running unopposed in the Nov. 8 general election this year.

Judges Kathleen Dumais, Carlos Acosta, Theresa Chernosky and Rachel McGuckian will be on the ballot after winning the July 19 primary against two challengers. Voters can vote for up to four candidates.

Dumais, Acosta, Chernosky and McGuckian were all appointed to their judgeships by Gov. Larry Hogan in recent years to fill vacancies. Under state law, judges who are appointed by the governor must stand for election to a 15-year-term in the next general election occurring at least one year after nomination to the court.

Judicial elections in Maryland are nonpartisan, however voters in both the Democratic and Republican primaries vote for up to four candidates. The top four finishers advance to the general election.

In the Democratic primary, each incumbent received about 20% of the vote, while challengers Marylin Pierre and Thomas P. Johnson III received 11% and 6% respectively. In the Republican primary, each incumbent also received about 20% of the vote, with Pierre receiving 9.7% and Johnson receiving 11.1%.


Acosta, 59, has been a Circuit Court Judge in the county since January, and before that was a District Court judge for four years. He also served as the inspector general for the Prince George’s County police department from 2012 to 2018.

In his answers to questions in Bethesda Beat’s 2022 Primary Voters Guide, Acosta said it’s important to ensure that the court system is accessible to everyone, and that virtual technology continue to be used to help streamline some administrative and procedural hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chernosky, 52, has been a Circuit Court judge since December 2021 and was previously a deputy district public defender and assistant public defender in the county. She also was an assistant public defender in London, Ky., from 1996 to 2001.


Chernosky said in her answers in the voters guide that she hopes to restore confidence in the court system, and will be fair in her judgments while listening with empathy. She also said during a primary election forum that changes are needed to address the high incarceration rates in the state, and that the state legislature’s decision to revoke the governor’s ability to make the final determination on parole eligibility will be highly consequential.

Dumais, 64, has been a Circuit Court judge since December 2021. Previously she represented District 15 in the state legislature from 2003 to 2021, and practiced law in Montgomery county for more than 30 years in the areas of family law, divorce, custody and domestic violence.

In her voters guide answers, Dumais emphasized that a governor’s nomination to the judiciary involves a vetting process, which includes judicial nominating commissions screening candidates for office at the district, circuit and appellate court levels. The process helps ensure that candidates are qualified for the position, she noted.


McGuckian, 54, has been a Circuit Court judge since January and was previously an attorney in private practice for nearly 30 years, representing clients in civil, divorce, custody and criminal appeal cases, according to her responses to voters guide questions.

McGuckian noted in her questionnaire that judges who apply to fill vacancies in Maryland completed a 25-page application, which was reviewed by 13 bar associations and an independent nominating commission.

Early voting runs from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3 in Montgomery County. For more information, visit Bethesda Beat’s General Election Voter’s Guide.