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Best Week, Worst Week: Goucher students get a tuition break; Baltimore judge accused of behaving badly again

Goucher College students got some welcome news to help their wallets this week while a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge is in hot water again over her courtroom conduct.

Business writer Anamika Roy reported Wednesday that amid mounting concerns about student debt, Goucher College officials announced that, for the first time in its 131-year history, the school would not raise tuition rates for the upcoming the school year.

Goucher President José Antonio Bowen added that decision to freeze tuition is part of a larger effort by the college to make it more affordable for students who are struggling economically. Rising tuition rates might not deter current students from finishing at the private, liberal arts college, but could dissuade prospective students from even considering the school. Roy reported that the cost for a student to attend Goucher, including tuition, fees, room and board, is now $55,176. With associated living expenses such as books and other supplies, the cost ends up being close to $60,000.

Meanwhile, Judge Lynn K. Stewart Mays is facing a second allegation of unprofessional behavior on the bench.

Legal affairs writer Heather Cobun reported Wednesday that the Commission on Judicial Disabilities last month found probable cause that Stewart Mays engaged in sanctionable conduct less than two months after she consented to a five-day suspension imposed by the commission in October 2014 and was placed on two years of probation.

Cobun reported 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.

Stewart Mays, who has been on the bench since 2002, 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.

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.

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.