The Maryland Court of Appeals has ordered a five-day unpaid suspension for a Charles County judge accused of letting the air out of car tire belonging to a woman who was a cleaning worker at the courthouse in La Plata.
Two sheriff's deputies reported that they saw Circuit Judge Robert C. Nalley letting the air out of the right rear tire of a Toyota on Aug. 10, 2009. The judge explained that he was annoyed at the woman for having parked in a restricted area of the courthouse.
Nalley was cited for tampering with a vehicle and pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge. He was fined $500, ordered to apologize to Jean Washington, the owner of the car, and placed on six months of unsupervised probation before judgment.
He was also suspended from overseeing criminal cases while the matter was being investigated by the Commission on Judicial Disabilities, which oversees disciplinary matters involving judges. The commission, which held a hearing on Nalley's case on April 28, could have recommended to the appeals court that Nalley be removed from office.
The appeals court's ruling revealed Nalley's admission that he had let the air out of someone else's tire about 10 years ago. The court concluded that the judge's conduct in the more recent case "raised a serious safety issue by potentially endangering the life of the driver of the auto, who might have driven the auto without realizing the tire was flat."
The court noted that Nalley, a former prosecutor who has served as a judge for 30 years, is "extremely remorseful that his actions brought unflattering attention to a member of the Maryland judiciary, thereby embarrassing his colleagues on the bench."
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