A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge who was disciplined in 2014 for “sarcastic, demeaning and mocking” behavior is facing similar allegations again for her conduct in the courtroom.
Judge Lynn Stewart Mays, who has been on the bench since 2002, consented to a five-day suspension imposed by the Commission on Judicial Disabilities in October 2014. Stewart Mays also was placed on two years of probation.
Investigators for the commission last month found probable cause that Stewart Mays engaged in sanctionable conduct less than two months after the 2014 disciplinary proceeding concluded.
The new allegations stem from Stewart Mays’ “unprofessional, condescending and threatening conduct” which was recorded by courtroom cameras and reviewed by investigators. The charges note that the cameras, which Stewart Mays can direct from the bench, did not capture footage of her during the incidents in question but focus on the trial table and gallery.
In her answer, filed last week, Stewart Mays contended that her admonishments to a prosecutor in December 2014 and a probation agent in July 2015 were proper and criticized the investigation’s reliance on undisclosed and unidentified sources.
“Proceedings initiated to address Maryland Judges’ conduct and efforts to impose serious sanctions upon hardworking and productive members of the bench should be reserved strictly for cases in which real — not imagined — judicial misconduct can be rationally perceived,” the answer states.
Andrew Jay Graham, Stewart Mays’ lawyer, was not available for comment Wednesday. Graham is with Kramon & Graham P.A. in Baltimore.
‘Condescending and sneering’
The December incident involved bail reviews before Stewart Mays which had been continued to allow assistant state’s attorney Christine Goo to interview a key witness.
When Goo informed the judge the witness had since been arrested and retained counsel — making him unavailable for an interview — Stewart Mays spent eight minutes discussing Goo’s background as a prosecutor, ridiculed and badgered her “with a condescending and sneering line of questioning,” and threatened personnel action, according to the charges.
The commission’s charges excerpted Stewart Mays’ remarks, including her telling Goo: “If that’s your best, hang it up. If that’s your best, then maybe you should think about doing something else.” The judge also said “the citizens of Baltimore deserve better than this.”
In her answer to the charges, Stewart Mays objected to the commission’s characterization of her remarks, arguing Goo had “cavalierly flouted the Court’s direction” to interview the witness and offered no valid excuses for not complying.
“Accordingly, Judge Mays expressed her displeasure and attempted to make it clear to Ms. Goo… that instructions from the Circuit Court are to be followed, and compliance is not optional,” the answer states.
Stewart Mays added she could have held Goo in contempt of court but instead chose to “properly impress upon her the seriousness of the issue and the obligations of all lawyers appearing in the Circuit Court to respect the Court’s orders and instructions.”
The second incident involved Stewart Mays’ remarks to a probation agent at a violation of probation hearing. The agent recommended dismissing the violation against the defendant because the underlying charges had been dismissed, according to the charges.
Stewart Mays asked questions about a violation related to the defendant’s failing to appear at a scheduled court date and the agent’s records, which included an incorrect date, noting the report “leaves a lot to be desired.”
Stewart Mays, in her response to the commission, said she has a “legitimate expectation” that probation agents are prepared and submit accurate reports to the court and was justified in criticizing the report.