In December, I wrote about concerns that had been raised regarding Baltimore County Bruce S. Lamdin’s conduct on the bench. Today, the Maryland Court of Appeals suspended Judge Lamdin for 30 days.
The court’s opinion provides over a dozen comments for which Judge Lamdin was disciplined. The comments seem to fall in one of five categories:
(1) Disparaging children – Judge Lamdin said that he does not like children and does not want them in his courtroom. You cannot tell from the transcript whether he is serious, half-serious or kidding. I have three kids but I really don’t take offense to someone saying they don’t like kids. His loss, but I don’t find such remarks offensive. Maryland Lawyer Blog Score: Who cares?
(2) Disparaging Pennsylvania – He said “What’s the big rush to get back to Pennsylvania. It’s an ugly state.” If you are offended by this, you need to get a life. Does anyone really take real umbrage over their entire state being called ugly? Maryland Lawyer Blog Score: Double who cares?
(3) Mocking Baltimore City’s Efforts to Control Prostitution – Judge Lamdin gave a long speech mocking Baltimore’s efforts to curb prostitution concluding that Baltimore “treats prostitution like spitting on the sidewalk.” I’m not sure he said anything that was factually incorrect. I love Baltimore, but we all saw The Wire, right? Maryland Lawyer Blog Score: Truth is an absolute defense (on this one).
(4) Mocking the Work Ethic of Baltimore County Circuit Court Judges Not Named Judge Cahill – Judge Lamdin made a few disparaging comments, the gist of which is that Baltimore County Circuit Court judges are having cocktails in the afternoons. When questioned about these comments, he admitted he should not have said what he said but that he believed that little was going on in Baltimore County Circuit Court in the afternoon, essentially saying: I should not have spoken the truth. My guess is that some Baltimore County Circuit Court judges would tell you some judges are hard-working and some are not. This is the case in just about every decent sized courthouse, law office, or any other workplace in America. Maryland Lawyer Blog Score: Inappropriate. But can we lighten up a bit?
(5) Treating Criminals with Contempt and Disrespect – Finally, you have gotten my attention. I have a problem with this. I think people with power have to treat other human beings with respect. This maxim has even greater force when the authority is vested in a governmental office. An element of most criminal offenses is contempt for society. When a judge representing the state of Maryland – all of us – returns that contempt, that evens out the score and just sends the wrong message. Moreover, if you do not have some compassion for the criminals in front of you, you should not be a judge. But this speech is easy for me to give sitting in my office, never having handled a criminal case. I do appreciate that criminals do wear on judges like they do on police, prosecutors and even criminal lawyers. Moreover, and again I don’t handle criminal cases, if we start pulling the transcripts of judges with respect to the respect they show criminals, I’m guessing Judge Lamdin may be in the minority, but he has a lot of company. Maryland Lawyer Blog Score: Awful, but I wonder if Judge Lamdin is not being singled out. I really don’t know.
In the end, the larger problem is that Judge Lamdin has not appeared repentant for his conduct. He clearly argued with the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities during the investigation of his conduct to the point where Judge Lamdin later argued that the Commission was motivated by their personal dislike for him. Worse still, when questioned about whether he has changed, he indicated that he now talks to people more in chambers. Arguably, this is code for “I’ll say what I want when the record is turned off. “
Maryland Lawyer Blog Final Score: I really don’t know.
You can find the entire opinion here.