On Tuesday, May 21, 2024, The Baltimore Banner reported that Associate Judge Marc Knapp of the Anne Arundel County Orphans’ Court was ordered to stay away from Chief Judge Vickie Gipson after she accused him of stalking and increasingly volatile behavior in a complaint filed with the district court.

According to the article, Judge Gipson confirmed that a peace order had been issued earlier that day regarding her complaint against Judge Knapp. In the complaint, Gipson accused Knapp of multiple incidents of aggression towards her and court staff members over the past year. She alleged that Knapp’s actions constituted stalking.

Gipson believes that Knapp may be discriminating against her due to her status as a Black female judge in a position of authority over him. However, Knapp, who is white, denied the allegations of aggression and instead said that Gipson was “playing the race and gender cards.”

While Knapp admitted that he and Gipson have engaged in loud arguments that resulted in complaints from the registrar’s office, he maintained that Gipson does not actually have authority over him as an associate judge. According to Knapp, all the judges are elected to equal positions and have the same authority.

In her seven-page complaint, Gipson detailed several concerning encounters with Knapp. In May 2023, she said Knapp invaded her personal space by leaning over her desk close to her face and telling her she needed to “earn respect.” Gipson reported feeling afraid of being hit due to his hostile demeanor.

More recently, in April 2024, Gipson alleged that Knapp hovered over her while she sat at her desk, raising his voice until a law clerk witnessed the incident. She had repeatedly asked him to stop his aggressive conduct to no avail. Due to Knapp’s unpredictable outbursts, Gipson wrote that she fears for her and others’ safety in the office.

While Knapp acknowledged arguing with Gipson, he minimized raising his voice and said she often interrupts him. He maintained he was simply standing by her desk to address her, though Gipson found this invading and aggressive.

Gipson’s complaint also accused Knapp of yelling and cursing at her and Judge David Duba in April when they disagreed with his opinion. She described him becoming visibly enraged over the disagreement.

This is not the first time this year that Maryland judges have faced complaints of misconduct. Circuit Judge April T. Ademiluyi was recently removed from the bench in Prince George’s County for violating codes of conduct. Like Knapp, Ademiluyi disputed the claims against her.

The Orphans’ Court handles estate administration for Baltimore City and most Maryland counties. Judges are elected to four-year terms. It remains to be seen how this internal dispute will impact the functioning of the Anne Arundel County court.

 

 

Source: The Baltimore Banner