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Top court bans shocking judge from hearing cases

The state's top court has banned retired Charles County judge Robert C. Nalley, who ordered a defendant be given an electric shock, from hearing cases, a judiciary spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The Court of Appeals order, which went into effect Friday, made no mention of the shock incident but said "good cause" had been found to withdraw Nalley's authority to sit on the bench.

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The Charles County sheriff's office also released its report on the incident, in which a deputy delivered a five-second jolt of electricity to defendant Delvon King. The report did not find wrongdoing by Nalley or the officer who activated the device.

Nalley could not be reached for comment.

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King was in court in July having a jury picked to weigh gun charges he faced. King subscribes to an ideology that does not recognize the authority of the courts and was representing himself.

He was trying to argue a point in the moments before the shock. Sgt. Patti Garino, an investigator with the sheriff's office, wrote in a report that King was being disruptive, "refusing to allow the judge to speak and non-responsive to his questions."

As King and the judge continued to talk over one another, according to witnesses, the judge looked toward officer Charles P. Deehan and told him to activate the stun device.

"Mr. Sheriff, do it," Nalley said to the officer, according to a transcript of the hearing. "Use it."

Deehan fumbled with the device's remote control, hitting a switch twice and failing to activate it. Nalley described to Garino seeing King grimace in anticipation of the shock.

Deehan had cleared chairs from the area and when Deehan finally delivered the shock, King fell to the ground, witnesses told Garino. At that point, the transcript reads: "DEFENDANT SCREAMS."

King later told Garino he did not think Deehan had a right to shock him and complained of a burning sensation around his right ankle where the stun cuff had been attached. Medical personnel found that King had not been injured.

At an April hearing in the case, King had fled the courtroom and eluded capture until he was found at a social services office and served with a warrant, according to the police report.

Noting that history, Garino concluded his report by writing that putting the cuff on King conformed to agency policy. He did not accuse either Nalley or Deehan of any wrongdoing.

"I believe Deehan demonstrated his concern for King and his safety," Garino wrote. "He did not mean to intentionally harm King."

But reports of the incident prompted Paul B. DeWolfe Jr., the head of the public defender's office, to call for Nalley to be removed. In an interview Wednesday, DeWolfe said the Court of Appeals action was appropriate.

Maryland has a mandatory retirement age for judges, but the Court of Appeals can give them permission to keep hearing cases. Nalley had been given authority to sit in both the Circuit Court and District Courts after his retirement last year.

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At the July hearing, Nalley was helping Judge Amy Bragunier handle King's case. She told Garino that when the case resumed before her, King "was a perfect gentleman."

After a short trial, he was found guilty.

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