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City judge agrees to five-day suspension over temperament on bench

A Baltimore circuit judge has agreed to a five-day suspension after she admitted having "mocked and ridiculed" a defendant and his fiancee in one case and being "disrespectful, dismissive and intemperate" to an attorney in another.

Judge Lynn Stewart Mays will also be placed on two years of monitoring by the state agency that handles misconduct by judges and be required to meet with a mentor, according to an order the Court of Appeals issued Tuesday and other documents.

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Andrew Jay Graham, Mays' attorney, said his client is a hardworking judge and that nothing in the allegations called into question her ability to decide cases.

"It really was a question of demeanor and civility," he said.

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The judge attracted complaints in connection with two cases she handled.

In one, Mays was dealing with a violation-of-probation hearing for 31-year-old Shawn Broadnax. When he stopped responding to her questions, the judge adopted a disparaging tone, according to charges filed by a judicial investigator.

"You all be a little bit more concerned," Mays told sheriff's deputies in the courtroom. "You all be a little bit more, you know, careful with him."

The judge listed psychiatric institutions that Broadnax could be taken to, according to the charges, getting help naming them from people watching the case from the benches.

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Mays then started a discussion with a woman who had been watching the hearing.

The woman, Letia Cole, identified herself as Broadnax's fiancee.

"Where's the ring?" Mays asked.

"We couldn't afford one," Cole said.

Then the judge said: "Sit down and keep your mouth shut."

Broadnax is currently incarcerated, and the public defender who represented him did not recall the hearing; Cole could not be reached.

In the second case, Mays got into a dispute with defense attorney Rachel Kamins.

After Mays threatened Kamins with a night in jail, she told the lawyer: "You cannot continuously argue with the court! Because you're going to lose! … You know why? One, I'm the judge. Two, I'm the judge. Three, I'm the judge."

More than a year later, Kamins and Mays were in court again on the same case and the rancor continued, according to the charges.

Kamins declined to comment on the judge's suspension.

The investigator concluded that Mays' actions in the hearings violated six different provisions of the code of conduct for judges.

Mays agreed in September to admit to the allegations. Graham said that "there are far more serious sins in life" than the conduct that Mays acknowledged.

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