Gov. Martin O'Malley named Maryland's chief utility regulator to the state's intermediate appeals court Friday while elevating a member of the Public Service Commission to be its chairman.

O'Malley announced that he has appointed Douglas R.M. Nazarian, who has led the PSC since 2008, to the Court of Special Appeals, which provides the first level of review in most cases appealed from the circuit courts.

The governor named W. Kevin Hughes, a longtime gubernatorial aide who has served on the commission since 2011, to the chairmanship. The panel oversees electric, gas and telephone utilities as well as such diverse sectors as charter buses and taxicabs.

The appointments were among a package O'Malley announced Friday, including four to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

As head of the quasi-judicial PSC, Nazarian has been a key player in dealing with issues as utility companies' readiness to restore power after major storms. He will replace retiring Judge James R. Eyler on the special appeals court.

Before joining the PSC, Hughes served as deputy chief legislative officer under O'Malley and former Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

To the Baltimore Circuit Court, O'Malley named Philip Senan Jackson, an assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland for the past 19 years; District Judge Christopher Louis Panos; Melissa Marie Phinn, a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer; and Julie Rebecca Rubin, a business litigation attorney.

In Baltimore County, the governor named solo practitioners Michael Thurston Pate and Kimberly Michelle Thomas to the Circuit Court.

O'Malley also appointed Brian David Green, a public defender, to the Carroll County District Court.

In addition to his judicial and regulatory appointments, O'Malley announced a replacement for longtime aide Rick Abbruzzese, who left the governor's office this month to become a lobbyist. Abbruzzese's successor as director of public affairs will be Stephen Neuman, a former top adviser to Democratic governors in North Carolina and Missouri.

michael.dresser@baltsun.com

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