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Judge Who Deflated Tire Resigns as Chief Court Administrator

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 14, 2009

A Charles County judge who acknowledged deflating a tire on a car parked near the courthouse in La Plata submitted a letter Thursday resigning as chief administrator of the Circuit Court.

"I am at a stage of my career where I feel that I can be of more use to the judiciary as a judge in the trenches than as someone with budget, planning, personnel and other management responsibilities," Circuit Court Judge Robert C. Nalley wrote to Robert M. Bell, chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals.

Nalley made no reference in the letter to this week's controversy over the tire deflation. He admitted to his supervisor and a Southern Maryland newspaper that he let the air out of the rear right tire of a 2004 Toyota Corolla parked outside the courthouse Monday.

Reached in his chamber Thursday, Nalley said, "Thank you, sir. I really don't have anything to say." Nalley, 65, is not resigning from the bench.

La Plata Police Chief Cassin B. Gittings said Thursday that an investigation into the tire deflation was continuing. Two county sheriff's jail officers witnessed the incident, and one recorded it with his cellphone camera, said two sources familiar with the investigation who requested anonymity because the probe is ongoing.

Bell could not be reached Thursday. William D. Missouri, chief administrative judge of Maryland's 7th Circuit, which includes Charles, said Nalley's resignation from his post as chief administrative judge won't be effective until Bell accepts it. "I suspect [Bell] will accept the resignation and make it effective immediately," Missouri said.

As chief administrative judge, Nalley was responsible for assigning cases to judges and overseeing the Circuit Court's budget and personnel, and he largely decided which defendants were entitled to continuances on court dates.

"The county administrative judge runs the court," Missouri said.

The owner of the car, Jean Washington, 51, said that a Charles sheriff's deputy told her Monday that Nalley was deflating her tire. Washington rushed out and moved her car to another parking area, where another deputy told her that the rear right tire was flat.

Washington said she did not have a permit for the first parking spot.

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this story.

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