The Washington Post Editorial Board posted an opinion on September 9, 2012 titled When Judges Behave Badly, commenting on Baltimore County District Judge Bruce S. Lamdin’s December 12, 2011 treatment of a domestic violence litigant seeking a restraining order against her husband who she testified assaulted her and almost burned the house down:
For 30 minutes, the 33-year-old woman was subjected to blistering questions about her motives and decisions. Reduced to tears, she ultimately was granted the temporary protective order but not before the judge declared it — with the husband looking on — to be ‘nothing more than a piece of paper. You can hold a piece of paper up in front of this gentleman, and he can shoot you right through it.’
The Women’s Law Center, the House of Ruth Maryland, and the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault reportedly filed a complaint against Judge Lamdin with the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities in response to the judge’s treatment of the woman. According to the Post, Judge Lamdin is currently performing “chambers only” work by order of District Court Chief Judge Ben C. Clyburn while the matter is investigated.
In 2008, Judge Lamdin was suspended for 30 days without pay for violations of multiple Canons of the Maryland Code of Judicial Conduct. In a May 13, 2008 opinion, the Maryland Court of Appeals, after quoting numerous statements made by Judge Lamdin in open court, found:
Respondent’s inappropriate demeanor and comments were exhibited in a pattern of behavior over a period of time and in many cases. His conduct was prejudicial to the administration of justice, manifested bias towards many groups, and lacked dignity, courtesy, and patience.
Unfortunately, this type of judicial behavior is not limited to judges in Maryland; it occurs all across the country. For example, see the links below.
The simple truth is that justice is not always just, and judges are not always judicial. While many judges possess proper judicial temperament and exhibit respect for the attorneys and laypersons who come before them, far too many do not.
This improper behavior pattern often starts before they become judges, while they are practicing attorneys, manifesting as lack of respect for, and mistreatment of, clients.
Judges as well as attorneys who exhibit improper behavior need to be held accountable. LPR urges all legal consumers to speak up and be heard — join the dialogue — which is the first step to effecting legal practice reform.
You’ve got options. The Center for Legal Practice Reform can help you navigate the attorney/client relationship and level the playing field. Call LPR today for a free consultation – (301) 351-7970.
- Controversial West Virginia Judge Faces New Charges (jonathanturley.org)
- Texas Judges Out of Order (KERAnews.org)