Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Judicial Disharmony In Maryland

The Baltimore Banner reports on disheartening disharmony among judges of the Anne Arundel County (Maryland) Orphans' Court

An associate judge on a state probate court for Anne Arundel County has been ordered to stay away from the chief judge after she accused him of stalking and “increasingly aggressive and volatile” conduct.

Orphans’ Court Chief Judge Vickie Gipson on Tuesday confirmed that a peace order had been issued earlier in the day by a district court judge regarding her complaint against Associate Judge Marc Knapp.

Gipson filed a criminal complaint with the district court on Sunday in which she accused Knapp of multiple incidents of aggression toward her and staff members. The court filing accuses Knapp of stalking.

The chief judge said Knapp appears to have issues with authority and believes that he may be discriminating against her as “Black, Female judge in authority above him.”

Gipson declined to comment on her complaint, saying it’s a pending legal matter.

Knapp, who is white, said Gipson “decided to play the race card and the gender card.”

 He denied that his behavior was aggressive and volatile. However, Knapp said he and Gipson have had arguments that were so loud they received complaints from people in the registrar’s office.

Knapp said the crux of the issue is that Gipson does not have authority over him.

“She thinks that being the chief judge makes her some sort of super judge,” Knapp said. “She has never accepted the fact that we were all elected to the same position and have the same authority.”

As Maryland’s probate court, the Orphans’ Court presides over the administration of estates, according to mdcourts.gov. Orphans’ Court judges are elected every four years and sit in Baltimore City and most Maryland counties.

Knapp has been a judge with the Orphans’ Court since December 2022. Gipson has been a judge since December 2018.

In a seven-page complaint, she describes multiple instances in which she has felt threatened.

“I am in fear of being hurt because of Judge Knapp’s on-going course of conduct for the last year which included berating, demeaning and hostile language as well as acts of aggression,” Gipson wrote.

On May 24, 2023, she said, Knapp “invaded” her personal space by leaning over her desk and coming within inches of her face and saying, “You know what Vickie, if you want … respect you have to earn it.”

She said he made the remark after being asked not to invade her space or behave so aggressively.

“I was in fear of being hit because of Judge Knapp’s hostile and aggressive demeanor.”

On April 18 of this year, Gipson said Knapp hovered over her and raised his voice while she was seated at her desk. Gipson wrote that Knapp didn’t step away until a law clerk came into her office and witnessed the incident. She said she had previously asked Knapp several times to stop his aggressive conduct.

“I am concerned about my safety and the safety of others in the office who might get hurt during these unpredictable outbursts,” Gipson wrote.

Knapp said that he and Gipson were undoubtedly having an argument. What usually happens, he said, is Gipson interrupts him when he attempts to speak. In turn, he raises his voice to be heard. He said she’ll then proceed to lecture him about raising his voice.

“I object to this because I’m not going to be bossed around by an individual who I do not believe has the authority to do that,” Knapp said.

Knapp said he may have walked over to her desk and stood in front of it to address her. He believes they both were annoyed by the other’s behavior.

“I don’t think annoyance is reason to file the complaint that she filed,” Knapp said.

On April 23, the complaint claims, Knapp yelled and cursed at Gipson and Orphan’s Court Judge David Duba because they disagreed with his opinion.

“Judge Knapp’s eyes began to bulge out of his head, his face turned red, and his voice cracked as he escalated to the point of loosing or having difficulty catching his breath because of the rage he was exhibiting,” Gipson wrote.

This isn’t the first time this year that Maryland judges have been the subject of workplace complaints.

The Maryland Supreme Court removed Circuit Judge April T. Ademiluyi from the Prince George’s County bench earlier this month, citing what it called “egregious” conduct, according to The Washington Post.

The high court determined that Ademiluyi, who was elected in 2020, had violated at least a half-dozen codes of judicial conduct involving impartiality and fairness, compliance with the law and her behavior with jurors, the newspaper reported.

The judge said her removal from the bench was in retaliation for a complaint that she filed accusing colleagues of treating her with hostility for being an outsider.

(Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2024/05/judicial-disharmony-in-maryland.html

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