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Baltimore Judge Devy Patterson Russell resigns while suspended for ‘uncontrollable incivility’

Judge Devy Patterson Russell, center, arrives at the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building in Annapolis before appearing at an August hearing over possible ethics violation during her time on the Baltimore bench. She resigned Wednesday after a new allegation surfaced.
Judge Devy Patterson Russell, center, arrives at the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building in Annapolis before appearing at an August hearing over possible ethics violation during her time on the Baltimore bench. She resigned Wednesday after a new allegation surfaced. (Joshua McKerrow/Capital Gazette)

Baltimore District Judge Devy Patterson Russell, who was suspended this summer for combative and volatile behavior, resigned from the bench Wednesday.

The state panel that oversees judges announced her retirement along with a new investigation into her for allegedly threatening and retaliating against another judge.

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A 12-year veteran of the bench, Russell had been serving a six-month suspension without pay handed down by the Maryland Court of Appeals. In its written opinion, the court found her conduct “exhibited a pattern of discourtesy and uncontrollable incivility that had pervasive effects on the administration of justice.”

The court had heard evidence that she yelled at other judges and staffers, pushed a courthouse employee and failed to properly handle search warrant paperwork from 2007 to 2015.

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Meanwhile, state investigators had also accused her of using her influence to try to embarrass a colleague. The investigative attorneys said she spread a rumor that another judge had used the “F-bomb” toward a citizen in the courtroom. They alleged that Russell had tried to influence bailiffs to change a report about the incident.

Russell has also drawn criticism from the public after it was revealed that she turned down a young Glen Burnie man’s request for a peace order before he was shot to death.

“Judge Russell would have strenuously and vigorously contested these most recent charges,” her attorney, William C. Brennan Jr., said in a statement Wednesday night. "She adamantly contends that the charges are without merit and should not have been brought. She is extremely disappointed with the commission — not only for the piling on — but because these charges were brought the day after her mother’s funeral.

“However she has moved beyond this phase of her legal career. She has spent the last 28 years in public service for the citizens of Maryland. She believes that her time, talent and abilities are better utilized — moving forward — by making positive contributions to the legal community. She thanks all of her many supporters, friends and colleagues who have wished her well in her new endeavor.”

District court judges in Maryland earn $146,333 a year.

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