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Former prosecutor Croyder runs against judge known for “subtle sexual harassment”

February 24, 2014
By

_MG_0215Page Croyder, a retired assistant states attorney who for years has blogged about the internal workings of the justice system in Baltimore, announced today that she is running for circuit court judge.

“I stand for truth, transparency, and fairness in the court system,” Croyder said from the steps of the Mitchell Courthouse on Calvert Street as a real estate tax auction was being conducted 50 feet away. “What I do not stand for, what the public should not stand for, are judges who embarrass and degrade the jurors, witnesses, and attorneys who appear in court before them. For that reason I am running against Judge Alfred Nance.”

Croyder has long been outspoken about certain policies and practices within the judiciary. She has berated district court judges for their light workload and called out Judge Askew Gatewood for breaking environmental laws.

But Nance—who is now chief judge–has been a special target of hers almost since he was appointed to the bench in 1997.  Croyder ran for judge in 1998, saying not all nine of the incumbents—who were running together on a slate—were qualified. By then an 11-year veteran of the State’s Attorney’s office, Croyder says then-State’s Attorney Pat Jessamy at first told her she could keep working as usual during her campaign, and then abruptly told she would have to take an unpaid leave of absence.

“Then the sitting judges asked to talk to me,” she says. “I was going to withdraw. I was thinking, ‘How can I go all summer without getting paid?’ But then something just said to me, no. I told them I was running. They tried to talk me out of it.”

Croyder lost, but developed a reputation for speaking her mind, writing letters to the editor of The Baltimore Sun on such diverse topics as judicial salaries and evolutionary theory. (The judicial letter got her demoted, she says.)

“Judge Nance’s inappropriate behavior was known inside the courthouse 15 years ago, prior to his election as a judge,” Croyder said in her announcement, adding that a “conspiracy of silence from the courthouse and from the bar” allowed him to continue “his subtle sexual harassment of women.”

Croyder is far from alone in criticizing Judge Nance. In 2006 he ordered a City Paper reporter who was called for jury duty not to write about his experience, after the reporter watched him comment on the marital status of another prospective juror.

He’s been reprimanded by the Maryland Judicial Disabilities Commission once and then investigated again.

“Through the years Nance has continued to enhance his reputation for the disrespectful and degrading way he treats people,” Croyder said. “Despite this, Governor Martin O’Malley has appointed him to a second 15-year-term, an action the governor should be called upon to explain.”

Croyder has been a smart and fearless critic of all aspects of the system—including her own office. In 2010 she conducted a study of the so-called “war room” initiative in Jessamy’s office, which Croyder has headed up. She found it was not effective.

She has also erred occasionally, as when she blasted Judge Nathan Braverman for letting a man accused of murder free on bail. That man, Demetrius Smith, was later convicted—falsely, it turned out—and then freed last year shortly before federal prosecutors charged the man who arranged the murder.

Croyder has no illusions about the fight she’s picking. As she wrote on her blog, “The law firms and bar associations stand ready to purchase advertising and space on the ballots of other candidates, and the sitting judges will hold hands with Nance and ask voters to vote for all of them. Citizens will re-elect Nance not because they approve of him but because they won’t know about him. He bears the legal establishment’s stamp of approval as “best qualified” to be judge.

In our 2008 “Best of Baltimore” issue, City Paper awarded Croyder Best Insider Perspective. She’s an outsider now, though.

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  • Barnadine_the_Pirate

    Ms. Crodyer is astoundingly unsuited in her temperament to be a judge. Moreover, as someone who clearly cares quite deeply about the court system, she is well aware that open elections for judges is a terrible way to run the system.

    The current system for judicial appointments is, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, the worst possible system, except for all of the others. We need to hold the governors and the nominating commissions responsible for bad appointments. But turning judgeships into political contests is a lose-lose alternative.

  • campcook

    Page Croyder tried to warn us the first time Nance was appointed He proved her right: Nance is the one who is “astoundingly unsuited” in temperament. It’s not a life term to sit as Circuit Court judge in Maryland. Bring on the election!

  • Countylawyer

    Judge Nance is one of the most competent, compassionate and experienced judges on the bench. Croyder’s problems are always somebody else’s fault. She was canned years ago and has been hovering on the fringe since then. She is an unrepentant nut. If it was up to her Demetrius Smith would still be in prison. I wonder if she has ever publicly apologized to Judge Braverman? Probably not, as it was all probably somebody else’s fault in her delusional mind. When is the last time she was even in a courthouse? This is all just a sham of self promotion for this loser. Go away Croyder!! Back to your “blog”

  • rvneill

    I have been a prospective juror in Judge Nance’s courtroom twice and both times I was appalled at his behavior. At first it just seemed like pompous, blowhard antics, and a huge waste of time because of how much he talked. But when he addressed the jurors, he asked people to stand up and state their age, marital status, level of education and profession in front of the whole group. He asked personal questions and made jokes about jurors’ marital status and their professions. Many of his remarks were inappropriate and embarrassing. I think Page Croyder is right that he doesn’t belong on the bench.

  • Barnadine_the_Pirate

    Ms. Croyder is a bomb-thrower, which is a great attribute for an activist, but a terrible one for a judge.

  • Mort

    Baltimore City Circuit Court has the most inbred, backwards, antiquated set of judges I have ever seen. Basically, a bunch of formerly over-paid, under-worked prosecutors, public defenders, and assistant attorney generals get political pay-offs via judgeships. For a former Baltimore City Assistant State’s Attorney to criticize anybody’s work is ludicrous. BTW, could we stop with the feminist agenda. Oh, gee, the judge made insensitive comments! Go cry. Only feminists ding-bats get offended.

  • Caroline

    @Barnadine_the_Pirate

    Will you please elaborate on your remark regarding Ms. Croyder’s unsuitable temperament for a judgeship? Can you give examples? I am interested to hear more.

  • Guest

    @Barnadine_the_Pirate

    Will you please elaborate on your remark regarding Ms. Croyder’s unsuitable temperament for a judgeship? Can you give examples? I am interested to hear more.

  • Guest

    LAW DAY

    ‘Judicial temperament’ a matter of showing respect to all

    By James E. Duffy Jr.

    This is the second of several articles written by state judges and legal experts commemorating Law Day (May 1) in Hawai’i.

    The rules of the Judicial Selection Commission provide that it may consider the “judicial temperament” of a judicial applicant (or a petitioning judge seeking retention) together with other qualities such as integrity and moral courage, legal ability and expertise, intelligence and wisdom, compassion and fairness, and diligence and decisiveness.

    What is “judicial temperament”? The American Bar Association defines it as having “compassion, decisiveness, open-mindedness, sensitivity, courtesy, patience, freedom from bias and commitment to equal justice.”

    While the association’s definition is helpful in its generic sense, it does not define for us what it means to have a “good” judicial temperament in the real world of courtroom interaction with a judge.

    Recognizing that any evaluation of “good judicial temperament” in general, or as applied to a specific individual, is subjective, I offer my thoughts based upon 35 years in the practice of law and 10 months as a member of the judiciary.

    To begin, having a good judicial temperament does not mean that the judge must be “Mr./Ms. Congeniality,” with a sparkling personality and good sense of humor. While these attributes may be helpful (particularly a good sense of humor), having a good judicial temperament is something much deeper and fundamental to our system of justice.

    Our system of justice depends on our citizen’s faith and trust that judges will decide disputes fairly and impartially, free from bias or prejudice. Out of respect for the system of justice and the judge’s position in this system, judges have traditionally been accorded respect by our citizens. In return, judges must respect all those they interact with, including the parties to the dispute, their attorneys, witnesses, jurors, court reporters, staff and members of the public.

    How do judges show respect? In many ways, including the following: by treating everyone with dignity, by being polite and courteous, by listening carefully to the testimony presented and the arguments of counsel, by being patient (understanding that litigation involves human emotions and that the courtroom is not a familiar or comfortable place for most people), and in general by showing that the judge genuinely cares about the matter being presented, understands that it is an important matter for those involved, and conveys the attitude that he/she will do his/her best to decide the case fairly and objectively, based on the evidence presented and applicable law.

    In summary, the judge must strive to be the embodiment of justice. In my experience, if the judge has done his/her job, the parties and counsel (who are well aware that there will be a “winner” and “loser” in the litigation if it is pursued to a decision in court) will be satisfied that they have had a fair hearing of the dispute, regardless of the judge’s ultimate decision.

    To me, having a “good judicial temperament” is thus not a matter of personality but a matter of commitment to be the embodiment of justice by showing respect to all one interacts with. If shown genuine respect by our judges, our citizens will continue to place their faith and trust in our judicial system, which is a cornerstone of our democratic form of government.