Montgomery judge fined in road-rage case resigns

December 2, 2011

A Montgomery County judge recently fined in a road-rage case resigned Friday, according to his attorney.

District Judge Brian G. Kim was approaching his 10-year reconfirmation process. A colorful and controversial figure in Rockville legal circles, he was known for running a tight courtroom.

Kim’s attorney, Barry Helfand, said the judge “wanted to seek a new opportunity.” He said that Kim, 50, did not want to be interviewed.

This year, Kim came to the attention of a watchdog group that spent six months monitoring restraining-order hearings in Montgomery.

“We had serious concerns about Judge Kim’s demeanor with domestic-violence victims,” said Laurie Duker of Court Watch Montgomery, adding that she did not know if the group had any bearing on Kim’s decision.

State Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery County), a member of the Executive Nominations Committee, said that had Kim remained on the bench, he likely would have had a reconfirmation hearing during the 2013 legislative session. Frosh said he had expected Court Watch Montgomery to make its concerns public.

Kim was born in Seoul and received his law degree from Boston College in 1985, according to state government records. He worked in private practice and served as an attorney for the Maryland attorney general’s office, representing the Motor Vehicle Administration, among other agencies, and the Montgomery County government’s attorney’s office, according to his online biography on icasinc.org, a group devoted to U.S. and Asia-Pacific Rim relations.

Helfand has said that Kim was sometimes tough on the bench but that the judge wanted defendants to get their lives together and avoid more-serious trouble.

“He really wants them to get better. Is he strict? Yes,” Helfand said. “He wants people to listen to him.”

Off the bench, Kim is known for playing the violin and running marathons.

In April, Kim paid a $510 fine for a traffic citation stemming from an Oct. 18, 2010, incident that started outside the Montgomery District Courthouse at the end of a business day.

Kim, driving a Honda CR-V, was accused of tailgating a Volkswagen Passat — apparently after believing he’d been cut off — and following it onto Interstate 270. The Passat’s driver, Rachel Viglianti, filed a report with Maryland State Police asserting that the CR-V driver kept “zooming up beside me, yelling through the windows and gesturing.” She also said that the Honda reached about 70 mph and zoomed over to her lane, causing her to slam on her brakes to avoid a wreck.

The Montgomery prosecutor’s office, citing a conflict of interest, assigned an investigation into the matter to then-Charles County State’s Attorney Leonard C. Collins, who concluded that Viglianti’s version of the events was more credible than Kim’s.

Post staff writer Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County, Md.
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