Is a judge a citizen, too? Sex charge: District Court judge erred by treating circuit jurist more harshly than similar defendants.


JUDGES ACCUSED of crimes deserve the same treatment as other defendants. When Anne Arundel District Judge Vincent A. Mulieri refused to shelve misdemeanor sex charges against Prince George's Circuit Judge Larnzell Martin Jr., he apparently treated Judge Martin unlike other defendants, including a school principal and a Navy spokesman who had been accused of the same crime for the first time.

Assistant State's Attorney Sue-Ellen Hantman, brought in from Howard County as prosecutor to avoid appearances of a conflict, said she had never had a judge reject a request to set aside, or "stet," a case in 18 years.

Judge Martin, 47, is alleged to have groped an undercover officer in a restroom at the Annapolis Mall on Jan. 14. County police were running a sting operation after fielding complaints of sexual activity in public bathrooms.

Judge Martin was accused of indecent exposure, a fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree assault. Those charges could result in 14 years in prison and $4,500 in fines.

In a survey of 20 similar sex cases in Anne Arundel this year, half bTC the defendants received probation before judgment or had the cases inactivated, meaning the records would be erased without another problem in two years.

Of the others, three pleaded guilty, a fourth was found not guilty and six cases are pending.

The district judge clearly was concerned that the public might interpret an agreement to inactivate this case as kid-glove treatment for a fellow member of the bench. The charge, however, is against the individual, not against his occupation. The police officer who arrested Judge Martin had no clue of his position. While the allegation is troubling, the criminal justice system is not the forum to decide Larnzell Martin's fitness as a judge.

That's a job for the state Commission on Judicial Disabilities. It needs to determine whether Judge Martin, currently reassigned to administrative duties, should remain on the Prince George's bench.

Pub Date: 6/10/98

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