Woman charged in attack on judge

Incident interrupts unrelated hearing city District Court

June 11, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A 44-year-old woman charged with assaulting a Baltimore District judge as he presided over a case was ordered held without bail yesterday until a psychiatric evaluation is performed.

Angela P. Middleton, who lives in a YWCA building on West Franklin Street, was charged with second-degree assault, which carries a 10-year maximum sentence, and threatening a public official, which could bring a three-year sentence.

Judges called the courtroom attack unprecedented.

Judge Theodore B. Oshrine was not injured. Court documents state that the judge's arms were grabbed and that it took armed bailiffs and two city police officers to take the assailant into custody.

The suspect had been a spectator and was not connected to the routine criminal docket that Oshrine was hearing Wednesday afternoon at the courthouse on Wabash Avenue in Northwest Baltimore. A motive was unclear, but Oshrine said he remembers the suspect from a civil case he presided over about four years ago.

"I can't remember it ever happening in a courtroom in the last 15 years that I've been a judge," said Keith E. Mathews, administrative judge of the District Court. He said security procedures are being reviewed because of the incident.

Armed bailiffs keep watch over district courts, where minor civil and misdemeanor cases are heard. Sheriff deputies are as signed to the Circuit Court, which handles felonies.

Defendants charged with the most serious crimes make their first stop in the judicial process in district courts for preliminary bail hearings. "We are going to be looking to improve our courtroom security," Mathews said yesterday.

The incident occurred about 2: 50 p.m. as a bailiff was delivering a file to a secretary in the compact courtroom where Oshrine was sitting on the bench.

A woman sitting in the third row got up and walked toward Oshrine. Unlike larger courtrooms, this one does not have a small wall separating public benches from the lawyer's well.

Court documents filed yesterday say the woman screamed a profanity and a death threat and raised her hands. "Judge Oshrine shouted out, `You're not to come up here. Go and have a seat,' " the documents say.

Police said the woman grabbed Oshrine's arms as police officers jumped up and grabbed her. As she was being led out in handcuffs, court documents say, the woman shouted: "I came up here today to kill you."

Oshrine said he had not reviewed the suspect's civil case and could not comment on the particulars. He declined to say anything about the incident because it is a pending criminal case.

"I'll let it run its course in court," he said.

Middleton has no adult criminal record nor has she ever been charged with a crime in Maryland, according to court records. A lawyer has not been assigned, and no one answered the telephone in her YWCA apartment.

Pub Date: 6/11/99

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