John Philip Sousa Pugh, the Democratic challenger in last week's primary race for Montgomery County Circuit Court clerk, has been sued by one of his Garrett Park neighbors in a boundary dispute over the unauthorized removal of survey stakes, according to court documents.

Pugh, a business consultant, ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Bettie A. Skelton in the primary election. Skelton was appointed last fall to serve the rest of the term of Circuit Court Clerk Howard M. Smith, who died last year.

Barbara E. Jackson filed a criminal complaint Aug. 20 alleging that Pugh removed survey stakes that had been placed around her property at 10922 Montrose Ave. by Maddox Engineers and Surveyors.

According to the complaint, Maddox officials placed the stakes "at four corners of the property" on June 7. The next day, the complaint alleges, Jackson "witnessed Mr. Pugh walking first to the southeastern and then the northern stakes and he pulled them out of the ground."

In an interview last week, Pugh said he removed the survey stakes because "they were on my property. I did not give her surveyors permission to put anything on my property."

Pugh, a former law clerk and bailiff, said he has lived in his Victorian house on Kenilworth Avenue for 29 years. He said a fence separates his rectangular property from Jackson's, which backs up to Pugh's land.

"That fence has always been the boundary line," said Pugh, the son of former Montgomery County Circuit Judge James H. Pugh. "I've lived within the confines of the fence for years."

Pugh said Jackson had "misused the criminal process" by filing the complaint. "This has no business in criminal court," he said. "It's unfortunate that the taxpayers of Maryland must pay for the criminal prosecution."

Pugh said the boundary dispute should be resolved as a civil case. The unauthorized removal of survey stakes is a criminal misdemeanor, according to District Court Commissioner Bernard Baumiller. A hearing on Jackson's complaint is scheduled for Oct. 1, Pugh said.