Mayor’s Wife Refutes Ethics Ruling
BALTIMORE (AP) _ The mayor’s wife will continue to hear criminal cases as a judge despite a ruling by an ethics panel that the position might cause a conflict of interest.
District Judge Catherine Curran O’Malley was assigned to the criminal docket by Judge Keith E. Matthews, the District Court’s administrative judge who last month said he would abide by the judicial panel’s opinion.
Matthews recently reversed his position, saying the December ruling by the panel was not binding and new judges need criminal experience.
A majority of the panel concluded that O’Malley, the wife of Mayor Martin O’Malley and daughter of state Attorney General Joseph Curran, and her husband enjoy a ``special relationship″ with the police, who provide them with 24-hour protection.
Most of the criminal cases will involve listening to testimony from police witnesses. O’Malley and Matthews said she would step down from a case if she believes there is a conflict.
``I have carefully researched all of the laws and canons of judicial ethics. All of the case law clearly supports the fact that I should be able to handle these cases,″ said O’Malley, a former Baltimore County prosecutor appointed to the bench in July by Gov. Parris Glendening. She has been hearing mostly civil cases.
``The ethics committee issued an advisory opinion. She is not in violation of a ruling,″ Matthews said. ``She said she feels comfortable hearing criminal cases, and if that’s how she feels, I have no problem assigning her there.″