Charles Judge Who Deflated Tire Is Suspended From Presiding Over Criminal Cases

By Ruben Castaneda and Christy Goodman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Charles County judge who admitted deflating a tire on a car parked near the courthouse in La Plata has been suspended from sitting on criminal cases until the investigation into the incident is resolved, the jurist's supervisor said Friday.

William D. Missouri, chief administrative judge of Maryland's 7th Circuit, which includes Charles, took the action after meeting with Circuit Court Judge Robert C. Nalley.

Missouri said he was removing Nalley from presiding over criminal cases, including those involving juveniles, because authorities had not said whether they will charge Nalley for deflating the tire. It is standard for judges charged with a crime or those who have charges pending to be suspended from presiding over criminal matters, Missouri said.

Missouri said he will have to transfer another judge in the circuit to Charles to take over Nalley's criminal docket or give the assignment to a retired judge.

Nalley submitted his resignation Thursday as chief administrative judge, a position in which he oversaw Charles County Circuit Court judges and workers. Missouri said that Robert M. Bell, chief judge of Maryland's Court of Appeals, had appointed Amy J. Bragunier, 47, as the chief administrator in Charles.

La Plata Police Chief Cassin B. Gittings said Thursday that his department was investigating Nalley's actions.

The owner of the car, Jean Washington, said police told her Friday that they will notify her Monday what action, if any, will be taken against Nalley.

Washington, 51, works for the cleaning crew at the courthouse. About 3:45 p.m. Monday, shortly after she reported for work, a county sheriff's deputy told her that Nalley was deflating one of her tires. Washington said she moved her 2004 Toyota Corolla to another parking area, where another deputy told her that the right rear tire was flat.

Nalley, 65, told Missouri on Wednesday that he had flattened the tire and that he didn't think it was a "big deal," Missouri said.

Missouri said Nalley was apologetic Friday. "He's very chagrined," Missouri said. "He feels embarrassed because he did it and how he's placed the court in a bad light."

Nalley did not return a phone call Friday.

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

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