Judge Orders Judge to Apologize for Deflating Cleaning Lady's Tire

Tire-deflating judge pleads guilty

By Matthew Stabley
|  Wednesday, Oct 28, 2009  |  Updated 7:54 PM EDT
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Deflate This: Tire-Flattening Judge Gets $500 Fine

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Deflate This: Tire-Flattening Judge Gets $500 Fine

A Charles County Circuit Judge pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor tampering charge Wednesday. He admitted to letting the air out of a tire on the car belonging to a courthouse custodian, who had parked in a restricted space in August.
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LA PLATA, Md. -- The Charles County Circuit Court judge who admitted to giving a courthouse cleaning lady a parking lesson by deflating her tire pleaded guilty Wednesday to tampering with a vehicle.

Visiting Judge Robert Wilcox told Judge Robert C. Nalley to write a "heartfelt letter of apology" (because forced apologies always are heartfelt; ask Michael Vick) to his victim, Jean Washington, and to pay a $500 fine. The visiting judge, who once served under Nalley, also gave him probation before judgment, which means the conviction won't appear on his record.

But we'll never forget.

Washington admitted parking in a space near a sign that read "Restricted Parking Only" but said no one ever told her she couldn't park there. Washington's parking routine was disrupted by construction. The space where her tire was deflated is a short walk to the courthouse, and Washington said she likes to park there because she feels safer as she leaves work after dark.

Washington had just arrived to start her shift the afternoon of Aug. 10 when a sheriff's deputy warned her that Nalley was going to let the air out of her tire if she didn't move her car. But it was too late.

Two jail officers said they saw Nalley do it, and one of the officers caught it on a cell phone camera.

"When I actually saw that my tire was flat, I was almost in tears, and not because of the fact that the air was out of my tire," Washington told NBC4 in August. "It was because of who did it."

Nalley had said he chose to deflate the tire because leaving notes is an ineffective way to send a message. In court Wednesday, Nalley apologized for the act, saying he was ashamed of the conduct and "embarrassed for the community."

Nalley could face sanctions from Maryland's Commission on Judicial Disabilities.

After the incident, Nalley resigned from his position as chief court administrator to focus on hearing cases. But since then, he has been suspended from that duty.

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