Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. Friday rose to defend his chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee after a judge questioned Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin’s ethics.
Miller, speaking from the floor and not the rostrum, told the Senate that he picked Zirkin to lead the committee he himself once was in charge of because of Zirkin’s character and educational background. Miller said he was troubled by reports that he said damaged Zirkin’s reputation.
“I just want to say, they can attack him but it could be anybody cause in his opinion, he didn’t do anything wrong,” Miller said. “I just want to say on behalf of the Senate, reporters wrote what they had to write. They thought it was news. Perhaps it is news when someone gets embarrassed and it’s not their fault but in terms of the Senate, I’d just like to say as president of the Senate, I’m going to stand up for the members, particularly the chairman for having his name besmirched in two national newspapers without realizing that he hadn’t done anything wrong, and in fact he hadn’t.”
Baltimore City Circuit Judge Althea M. Handy late last month denied a request by to delay a medical malpractice trial involving the University of Maryland Medical System. Zirkin had entered his appearance on the case just the day before and asked for the delay because the General Assembly was in session.
“You don’t enter your appearance in a case knowing that the trial date is coming up … that’s, to me, it’s rather unethical if you’re not prepared to go to trial to enter your appearance at this late date,” Handy said at the hearing where the request was denied.
Zirkin later withdrew from the case.
Zirkin was not present Friday when Miller spoke. A Senate aide said Zirkin was ill.
“He was asked to intervene in a case and when he found out he really shouldn’t be involved in the case, not for, not because there was a conflict or anything of that nature but because this is a quasi governmental entity,” Miller said. “And lawyers, representatives of the legislature, are not supposed to be involved in representing governmental entities.”
“When you’re involved in a legal case it’s two warriors going against each other, two lawyers, and they’ll say or do anything to win their case. It doesn’t matter whose feelings get hurt or what have you as long as they represent their client. And this is a multi-multi-million case. So they were going to say or do anything possible to win the case. It influenced the judge’s decision in the case and as a consequence, the judge wrote a very harsh opinion questioning the integrity of the chairman of judicial proceedings even after he had withdrawn from the case.”