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Former Montgomery County judicial candidate faces misconduct claim

Marylin Pierre

Marylin Pierre

Maryland’s Attorney Grievance Commission has accused a former Montgomery County judicial candidate of making false statements during her campaign and on applications for judgeships.

The petition asks the Court of Appeals to impose discipline against Marylin Pierre, who ran for a seat on the county’s Circuit Court in 2020.

The commission’s bar counsel filed the petition Thursday. The document claims that Pierre repeatedly misrepresented or failed to disclose information about legal action taken against her in the 1990s, when she allegedly defaulted on several student loans, evaded service of court summons in Montgomery County and ultimately was taken into custody for less than a day after failing to appear in court.

It also accuses her of misrepresenting her legal experience and of making “knowingly and intentionally false” statements about sitting judges in Montgomery County during her judicial campaign.

Pierre declined to comment for this story.

“I am in the process of obtaining an attorney for this matter,” she said in a text message. “I cannot comment before I obtain legal advice.”

The petition states that Pierre’s student loan debts were marked as satisfied in 2004.

The petition accuses Pierre of embellishing the details of her legal troubles over student loans in her 1999 application for the New York State Bar and of failing to disclose the issue in seven of eight personal questionnaires she filled out to seek judicial appointments in Maryland between 2012 and 2017.

It also alleges that she exaggerated her legal experience on the questionnaires.

Several of the claims stem from Pierre’s failed bid for Montgomery County judge in 2020. She ran against a group of sitting judges — Bibi Berry, David Boynton, Christopher Fogleman and Michael McAuliffe — after a surprise win in the Democratic primary.

The petition alleges that Pierre made false statements about the sitting judges on her campaign Twitter account, including that some judges sent defendants to jail because they “could not speak English” and that the sitting judges “are an in-group. Most of them have worked at the same law firm, go to the same church, and are related by marriage.”

The statements were “knowingly and intentionally false or made with reckless disregard as to their truth or falsity and impugned the integrity of the sitting judges,” the petition claims.

The document also alleges that Pierre exaggerated her legal experience in campaign materials and that she intentionally misrepresented the words of another judge in communications sent to voters and posted on her website.

During a forum in October 2020, Berry was asked about the high incarceration for Black men in Maryland, according to the petition, and responded with a list of options available to judges besides incarceration.

According to the petition, she then said, “I understand that it is an issue, but it’s not as much of an issue as being portrayed by the other two candidates,” one of whom was Pierre.

Pierre adjusted the sentence in campaign communications, the petition alleges, and referred to a sitting judge saying “it’s not much of an issue” that Black males are jailed at a higher rate in Maryland.

A complaint against Pierre was filed with the Attorney Grievance Commission in September 2020, during the heat of the judicial race. The petition does not disclose who filed a complaint against Pierre.

Some of the claims lodged against her echo complaints made during the campaign. Bethesda Beat reported on Oct. 30, 2020, that the slate of sitting judges had successfully sought a restraining order against Pierre after reporting that a member of her campaign was portraying Pierre as a judge.

Pierre, of Rockville, was not a judge, but a lawyer at the time. She told the Beat that she had no “firsthand knowledge” of a campaign volunteer identifying her as an incumbent judge, and accused her opponents in the race of running a negative campaign against her.

The Court of Appeals will make the final decision regarding any discipline or remedial action against Pierre.

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