Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 19, 2007

Do more to monitor judicial misconduct

I found two surprises in the article regarding Baltimore County District Judge Bruce S. Lamdin's inappropriate behavior - the fact that only one judge was singled out for inappropriate behavior and the fact that the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities receives an average of only 111 written complaints about judges a year ("Judge faces hearing over his conduct," Oct. 15).

Anyone with regular business in Maryland courts is aware that there are several judges who act inappropriately on a regular, if not daily, basis.

These judges are offensive, insulting and degrading to people who have regular business before the court - attorneys, police officers, probation agents, bailiffs and clerks. Others who appear before the court are often treated in the same disrespectful manner.

People with regular business before the court are often too intimidated to lodge formal complaints because they fear that such a complaint would be held against them when they appear before the court again.

Anyone can excuse a judge when he or she is having a bad day. But a judge who never seems to have a good day should not be on the bench.

The vast majority of Maryland judges behave appropriately and respect the serious nature of their jobs. Unfortunately, because each judge is responsible for a large number of cases, those judges who are blatantly unprofessional can cause immense damage.

More should be done to monitor judicial behavior so that the courts will be perceived as conducting business according to a high standard.

Edward McCarey McDonnell

Baltimore

The writer is a retired employee of the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation.

Wetlands play role in reducing CO2

Living near the Chesapeake Bay, we hear a lot about the importance of coastal wetlands for wildlife habitat, water treatment and protection against flooding.

And thanks to Tom Pelton's article "Can this muck save the planet?" (Oct. 9), we can now add to our list of concerns about the loss of wetlands the fact that wetlands remove carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere and help to store it in the soil.

However, it is important that readers understand that wetlands also release methane and nitrous oxide, two greenhouse gases more potent as causes of warming than carbon dioxide.

Fortunately, tidal wetlands are thought to emit these gases rather weakly, so the net effect of creating new tidal wetlands is likely to be good from a climate-change perspective.

Patrick Megonigal

Edgewater

The writer is wetlands scientist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

Hunt is wrong way to control the bears

The fourth black bear hunt in Maryland in 50 years is scheduled to begin Monday ("Bears are fair game, says governor's aide," Oct. 16).

Although the original reason for the hunt was to eliminate "nuisance bears," it is now nothing more than a trophy hunt for the bears' heads and hides.

There are only a few hundred black bears in the entire state. That isn't too many bears.

So why not just tranquilize and relocate the bears considered a "nuisance"?

The "nuisance bears" aren't even likely to be eliminated by the hunt. They usually live too close to people to be hunted.

The best way to keep bears away from your house is simply to make garbage and birdfeeders inaccessible and to keep outdoor grills clean.

Howard Edelstein

Silver Spring

Altering cigarettes adds little to safety

I wonder how many people really think safer cigarettes will prevent tragedies ("City to push for safer cigarettes," Oct. 11).

It seems to me that something is always being done to make it easier for irresponsible people to be even more irresponsible.

We talk about banning plastic bags to stop litter, banning pit bulls to stop dog attacks and making "safer" cigarettes to stop fires, when the real problem is the cigarette user, dog owner or litter thrower.

If we think for one minute that any cigarette will burn out so quickly after a person drops ashes or falls asleep while smoking that it cannot start a fire, that's a mistake.

It only takes a spark to ignite something flammable, and someone who is drunk, irresponsible or sleeping won't be able to stop the fire - no matter how safe the cigarette is.

Monica Bozman

Baltimore

Congress can't avoid role in waging war

The editorial "Power to declare" (Oct. 14) suggests that everyone read the "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq" resolution.

I have an even better idea: Why not suggest everyone read the Constitution to see what it says? Nowhere does the Constitution grant Congress the option to abdicate its authority to declare war or any of the other responsibilities granted to its members.

The saddest thing in all of this is that no one - not most of the sovereign citizens or Congress or the courts - seems to have grasped how dangerous it is for Congress to abdicate its responsibilities and its authority to declare war.

Congress hasn't declared war since World War II.

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