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Some judges err on rules of decorum

Objections raised to improper remarks, 'meatball justice'

April 05, 2010|By Nick Madigan | nick.madigan@baltsun.com

Lamdin was investigated by the judicial panel in 2005 after he was named in a complaint by a Parkville woman who had appeared before him in an effort to have a tenant evicted. When Lenore Maggio testified that the tenant's child had called her a bitch, she told The Sun that Lamdin replied, "I'm sure that wasn't the first time someone called you a bitch."

In August 1996, Montgomery County District Judge Henry J. Monahan resigned amid allegations of lunch-hour trysts in his chambers with a prostitute.

Last summer, an appeals court ordered new trials for two men convicted of drug charges after it found "egregious" behavior by Baltimore City Circuit Judge Charles G. Bernstein.

In one of the trials, lawyers appealing the case argued, Bernstein acted as a "second prosecutor" and showed his bias by referring to the defense's strategy as "pretty silly," and demeaned the defense attorney by calling her "young lady."

Russell, the judge at the center of the most recent uproar, said he had no intention of dismissing any claim of domestic abuse, and that Wood and his fiancee, Shelly Pearl Say, had seemed genuinely eager to get married.

In "Chronicles from Court: In My Own Write," the memoir he published in 2004, he said he and his colleagues on the lower court dispense "meatball justice," as opposed to the "delicate judicial surgery" performed in Circuit Court.

"I rush through these endless criminal dockets and try not to do violence to the basic rights of the defendants and to concepts of fundamental fairness," he wrote. Referring to the "epidemic" of domestic abuse, Russell wrote that the "ironic constant in these cases is that the girlfriend will repeatedly choose not to testify or radically change her story to protect the boyfriend."

Despite the publication of his book, Russell said on Friday that he had labored all these years on the bench "in anonymity and peace until I acted like a priest and married a nice young couple in Essex."

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