Panel reprimands Carroll judge for role in traffic accident last year

February 26, 2002|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Carroll County Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. has received a private reprimand from the commission that disciplines the state's judges, ending an investigation into an unusual traffic accident in the fall that Ocean City police said he caused and knew wasn't reported to authorities.

Burns signed his consent last week to the reprimand and to the release of a public statement yesterday by the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities.

"As a result of the investigation and Judge Burns' willingness to consent to this statement, the commission concluded that formal proceedings were not warranted," it said.

According to the statement released by the commission, "The private reprimand was issued based upon an investigation conducted by the commission's investigative counsel regarding Judge Burns' involvement in an automobile accident in Ocean City, Maryland, in October, 2001," it said, without characterizing his involvement.

Burns, 68, of Westminster could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The investigation arose from news accounts of the judge's role in an accident the night of Oct. 2, when Burns, a passenger in the middle front seat of his car, depressed the accelerator as he and friends were leaving an Ocean City restaurant, according to Ocean City police and other authorities.

A friend, Horace Sterling Brauning Jr., 71, of Finksburg had been driving Burns' car because Brauning had not been drinking.

The next day, police investigating a complaint from a resident of the Trader Bay townhouses found tire tracks 30 to 40 feet long and property damage.

"If he's a judge, he knows you don't hit something and drive away," Jay Hancock, spokesman for Ocean City police, said after he visited the scene of the accident a few days after it occurred.

The headlight cover of a Lincoln automobile was found at the scene, police said. On Oct. 4, an officer spotted a damaged Lincoln at a motel. As it was being towed, Burns approached police and said the car was his and that he had not been driving when it was damaged.

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