This is a two part comment. One on the case and one about the judge. Yesterday I had a DUI with an issue about the arrest. The video showed my client was not impaired, and the only reason for the stop was excessive speed. Because of the judge’s reputation for harsh sentences, I explained to my client that if we lost she would not accept a PBJ because of the probation conditions I expected would be imposed. The judge is great on legal issues, but if you lose, I believe some of the “usual” probation conditions are unwarranted. I sat through the docket waiting for my trial and saw that the judge’s probation conditions were completely in-line with everyone else. The “unusual” conditions were not imposed, even where I expected they would. I told my client, there would be no appeal as no one would be fairer on the law, and that if we lost the sentence would be appropriate.
The judge watched the video and then re-watched the video after cross-examination. He did not miss a single issue. Before becoming a judge, he was an excellent lawyer, and it showed. He agreed that the arrest was without probable cause and entered a verdict of not guilty. There were 3 jury trial requests when the docket began because of the judge’s reputation. I have been praying jury trials for years to avoid him. No more! Unless the issue is the harshness of the sentence for a repeat offender, I am staying in his courtroom. It has always bothered me that some judges will take themselves out of the equation because no one will plead or try a case in their courtroom. It is wasteful, and is just destroying the Circuit Court’s ability to deal with serious felonies in an expeditious manner. It is ridiculous to watch smart and talented judges sit and take pleas all day because the cases cannot be adjudicated before a District Court judge. I recently appeared in front of 2 Circuit Court judges in Baltimore City whom I do not know, but who I knew about as far as their “pedigree,” and it was embarrassing to see them deal with the crap that you have to pray a jury trial on or appeal in Baltimore City. They should have been presiding over complex civil cases, not grams of weed. Two former District Court judges are also processing this garbage, and it is a complete waste of their talent. I am friends with some of the District Court judges I reference, and there is no changing them. I love them, but they are going to keep on doing what they have been doing no matter what the price is to the administration of the Circuit Court. It is nice that one of the “have to run from him” judges has re-entered the fray. Welcome back.