On Monday, June 26, 2023, the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities will review the case of St. Mary’s County Orphans’ Court Judge Michael R. White. The judge, currently involved in a complex family dispute with his brother over their e-commerce business, faces the possibility of reprimand.

The case is titled “In the Matter of Judge Michael R. White,” case no. CJD 2022-023.

In a groundbreaking development, Judge White is set to face a first-of-its-kind public reprimand hearing conducted by the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities. This hearing marks the first instance since a 2019 rule change that allows judges to contest the facts underlying a proposed reprimand.

Reprimands, generally kept confidential, are considered a lower-level sanction compared to public censures. Prior to the rule change, if judges refused to accept a private reprimand, the commission had to either file public charges or drop the case. However, with the 2019 rule change, judges now have the option to challenge a reprimand privately if they believe it may not be the appropriate discipline for their conduct. In cases where a judge disputes the facts underlying the proposed reprimand, the commission is required to hold a public hearing. The upcoming hearing for Judge White will be the first public reprimand hearing since this rule change came into effect.

The details of the allegations against Judge White have not been made public, but this hearing will provide transparency as members of the public are invited to attend.

The Daily Record reported that in addition to the reprimand hearing, Judge White finds himself embroiled in a messy legal battle involving several members of his family and a company called Compass Marketing. Compass Marketing, an Annapolis-based e-commerce company, filed a lawsuit against Judge White, his brother John White, and another brother Daniel White in February 2022. At the time of the lawsuit, Daniel White was a prosecutor in the Office of the State’s Attorney for St. Mary’s County, while Michael White’s son, George White, headed the Forestville Barrack of the Maryland State Police.

Compass Marketing’s lawsuit, which has since been dismissed, alleged that Michael and Daniel White embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the company through secretive financial maneuvers. The lawsuit also claimed that other members of the company stole trade secrets and used insider information to form a competing company called Flywheel Digital, which was later sold for $400 million.

U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III dismissed the Compass Marketing lawsuit in February. Judge Russell ruled that the company’s claims regarding trade secrets were expired under the statute of limitations and that Compass Marketing failed to state a claim against Daniel, Michael, and George White. However, Compass Marketing has appealed the decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, continuing the legal dispute.

The upcoming public reprimand hearing is scheduled on June 26, 2023, beginning at 5:45 p.m. and will take place at the Judicial College of Maryland, 187 Harry S. Truman Parkway in Annapolis, Maryland.

Judge Michael R. White is the Chief Judge of the Orphans’ Court in St. Mary’s County. The judge’s courtroom is located at 41605 Court House Drive, Leonardtown, MD 20650 – 0602, and can be reached at (301) 475-5566. His info can be found on Maryland.gov.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.