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Anne Arundel judge accused of ethics violation for questioning attorney about complaint

An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge is facing a disciplinary hearing after he allegedly chastised and badgered an attorney about a complaint against him that she filed with the Commission on Judicial Disabilities.

Judge Paul G. Goetzke committed sanctionable conduct when he subjected attorney Marietta B. Warren to questioning for almost an hour last year while “using a demeaning and sarcastic tone” to ask her to justify her accusations to the commission, according to the commission’s charges.

The commission charged Goetzke with violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct on Oct. 10 but the charges were not made public until Wednesday, when Goetzke filed a response denying he committed sanctionable conduct and asking the charges be dismissed.

Goetzke is represented by William C. Brennan Jr. of Brennan, McKenna, Mitchell & Shay in Greenbelt. Brennan did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Warren, of Hillman, Brown & Darrow P.A. in Annapolis, filed a formal complaint in June 2016, the details of which are not included in the charges, and supplemented her complaint later to include Goetzke’s behavior at a July hearing. A spokesman for the Maryland Judiciary said details of the initial complaint were not available and Warren declined to comment Thursday.

The confrontation between Warren and Goetzke occurred after Warren appeared before Goetzke in court and the judge revised an order at her request with no opposition. After the hearing concluded, Goetzke recalled the matter but excused all of the parties except for Warren and then asked her to explain the allegations in her complaint to the commission.

After Warren said she did not feel at liberty to discuss anything related to the matter, Goetzke said, “I want you to tell me here in court where you’re appearing to tell me what you believe would justify that accusation,” the charges state.

Warren argued the points in her motion and Goetzke questioned her for 55 minutes and “repeatedly pressed (her) regarding her complaint with the Commission,” the charges state.

After Warren reiterated she was not comfortable discussing her complaint, Goetzke said, “Then don’t allege it.”

Goetzke later issued a memorandum opinion and order denying Warren’s motion to revise, according to the charges.

“Judge Goetzke was disrespectful and unprofessional to Ms. Warren during the (hearing), and his tone was rude, condescending, and sarcastic,” the charges allege.

A hearing on the charges has not yet been scheduled.

Goetzke, 57, has been on the bench since 2004. He previously served as the city attorney in Annapolis and counsel to the mayor.

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