Issues Mount For Md. Judge
Tuesday, November 1, 2005
Prince George's District Court Judge Richard A. Palumbo, temporarily removed from the bench amid controversy over a protective order ruling and two traffic incidents, is facing new questions about where he lives and how he handles domestic violence cases.
Tax forms show that Palumbo claims two houses as his principal residence, one in Prince George's County and one in neighboring Charles County. As a District Court judge, he is required to live in Prince George's. An official with the state comptroller's office said Maryland residents can have only one primary residence for tax purposes.
Meanwhile, advocates for domestic violence victims say they see a distressing pattern in Palumbo's conduct on the bench. They pointed to the case of a Prince George's man who allegedly attacked his wife in May, five months after Palumbo dismissed a temporary protective order against him.
The case is similar to that of Yvette Cade, a Prince George's woman who was set on fire last month, allegedly by her husband, after Palumbo dismissed her protective order against him.
Palumbo's attorney, William C. Brennan, said his client would not comment on either domestic violence case. Speaking for Palumbo, Brennan said of the residency issue, "Judge Palumbo's legal domicile is in Hyattsville, Maryland." Hyattsville is in Prince George's.
According to records filed with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, Palumbo and his wife list a two-story, 6,148-square-foot home in Port Tobacco in Charles as their principal residence on one document, but Palumbo lists a two-story, 1,232-square-foot home he owns in Hyattsville as his principal residence on another document.
"There's oodles of people who have multiple residences in the state. Only one is their domicile," said Deputy Comptroller Stephen M. Cordi.
Associates, friends and neighbors have told The Washington Post that Palumbo and his wife have lived on his sprawling 114-acre Charles property since the mid- to late 1990s. These people did not want their names published because they said they are fond of Palumbo.
He was appointed to the bench in 2001.
Kevin Enright, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office, said district court judges must live in the county in which they preside. Enright said residency has not been defined; under state law, there is no specific amount of time a judge must spend in a home he has in the county in which he serves.
Palumbo lists the Hyattsville address on his driver's license and his voter registration.
A nephew of Palumbo's, Michael Lovelace, and his family live in the judge's Hyattsville home, Brennan said. Lovelace is an assistant Prince George's state's attorney. State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said Lovelace works on cases that appear in Circuit Court and does not appear before Palumbo.