A Montgomery County District Court judge has been arrested and charged with misdemeanors he often presides over -- breaking and entering and assault and battery, Washington County police announced yesterday.
Judge Henry (Harry) Joseph Monahan, 53, of 5440 Jordan Rd., Bethesda, had been been partying in Hagerstown Thursday night with other Maryland judges at an annual meeting of jurists prior to his arrest early Friday morning. After he was released into the custody of a Baltimore city district court judge, then was taken to Washington County Hospital for what appeared to be heart problems, according to the Baltimore judge, Robert J. Gerstung. Yesterday, Monahan was listed in good condition at Georgetown University Hospital where he was admitted Friday, but he was not receiving calls.
Monahan, who suffered a heart attack in December, "was complaining of chest pains and looked bad" on Friday, Gerstung said yesterday.
"He appeared to be a very sick and distraught and disoriented person, and he was drinking," Gerstung said. Gerstung said Monahan was taking at least two medications for his heart, which Gerstung speculated might have heightened the effects of drinking.
At about 2 a.m. Friday morning, according to Washington County police, a couple at 800 Dual Hwy. in Hagerstown called police to report that a man had broken into their enclosed front porch through the storm door and window. When police arrived at the house, they found a man, later identified as Monahan, on the porch.
"He had been drinking and was unaware where he was," according to Sgt. Ralph B. Ryland, of the criminal investigation unit. Monahan assaulted the two officers with his hands and, after he was subdued and handcuffed, gave them several false names, Ryland said.
The officers charged Monahan with one count of breaking and entering and two counts of assault and battery, all misdemeanor charges under Maryland law.
"At this point, no additional charges are being placed," said Ryland. "There's no crime for being drunk anymore. And a lot of times people resist, and they're not always charged with resisting arrest."
According to several judges who attented the two-day conference last week, Monahan attended a cocktail reception Thursday evening at the home of Washington County Circuit Court Judge Daniel W. Moylan, then went to a conference-sponsored dinner at the Airport Inn.
After the dinner, Monahan and several other judges went to the Sheraton Hotel for drinks, the judges said.
Monahan was arrested later at the house on Dual Highway, which is not far from the Holiday Inn where he was staying.
Betty Thompson, administrative assistant for Robert F. Sweeney, chief judge of the District Court for Maryland, said Monahan has been on sick leave with pay from his $55,100-a-year job. Thompson said Sweeney would not discuss the incident but will schedule a meeting with Monahan once Monahan is well enough to discuss judicial status while charges are pending. In district court, judges hear mostly misdemeanor criminal cases and civil and traffic matters.
Some Montgomery attorneys who have practiced before Monahan were shocked that the judge had been arrested and that police said he had been drunk.
"I've known him for 20-odd years and I must admit, I was shocked and astounded, and I would assume that there's some explanation," said Carol Freeman, a county public defender who said she was talking as a private citizen.
Barry Helfand, another Montgomery attorney, echoed the sentiment. "It's absolutely out of character," Helfand said. "And not only should he be presumed innocent, I'm just confident he will be found innocent when the whole story's told."