But his alleged offense doesn’t seem stereotypically Asian….
The Washington Post reports:
A Montgomery County district judge was cited for reckless driving Thursday after an investigation into another driver’s claim of road rage that started outside a courthouse and nearly caused a 70 mph collision on Interstate 270 during rush hour, according to police records and officials.
Recklessness? We generally aren’t reckless drivers; we’re just incompetent. And road rage? What is this “rage” of which you speak?
The other driver, Rockville lawyer Rachel Viglianti, reported the incident as it occurred, calling 911 on her cellphone. She submitted a written account to state police investigators three days later.
Ah, so the person who reported Judge Kim is an attorney. Usually it’s the judge who gives a hard time to the lawyer. Isn’t it fun when the tables are turned?
“I have never feared for my life as I did during this incident,” [Viglianti] wrote. “The driver looked crazed and furious.”
…. In her statement to police, Viglianti said the incident began about 5:40 p.m. after she left her parking garage and stopped at a red light. A black Honda CR-V was waiting at her left in a turn-only lane when the light turned green, she wrote.
Both cars went straight and the CR-V pulled in behind her Volkswagen Passat, she said. The CR-V driver tailgated and taunted her, Viglianti said.
The drivers made their way to southbound I-270, with the CR-V following closely and eventually pulling up on the right, according to Viglianti’s statement.
The driver “keeps zooming up beside me, yelling through the windows and gesturing,” she wrote. “He continues to do this while we are traveling on 270S at approximately 70 mph.
“The CR-V’s front bumper is approximately 2 feet in front of mine when he zooms over to left into me and my lane. I slam on the breaks, swerve into the lane to the left of me part way, and slam on the horn. The CR-V was [within] inches of hitting my car and spinning me out of control. I am now behind the CR-V and he immediately slams on the brakes to get me to rear end him. I again have to slam on the brakes and nearly come to a stop on the middle of the highway.”
How was this matter resolved? Judge Kim, 49, paid a $510 fine yesterday. He declined to comment about the incident.
Is it surprising that Judge Kim has a temper? According to the Post, he can be a bit of a judicial divo:
On the bench, Kim is known to run a tight ship. Several years ago, he admonished a police officer for arriving late and not taking notes during two traffic stops. In 2006, according to a police account, he ordered a bailiff to confiscate a cellphone from an officer who flipped the phone open before he exited the courtroom.
He also has been known to tell defendants to get their lives together before more serious charges result. “He really wants them to get better. Is he strict? Yes,” said Barry Helfand, Kim’s attorney. “He wants people to listen to him.”
That seems like a charitable interpretation. One Maryland lawyer offered these opinions about His Honor (including background on the cellphone confiscation controversy):
Judge Kim is a raving madman on the bench, equal opportunity to lawyers, litigants, and witnesses…. [H]e has a fiery temper and is just a terror on the bench. In fact, you never have to speculate as to whether Judge Kim has the misdemeanor criminal docket – just look next door and if there is a line of people out the door at the Circuit Court (trial court where misdemeanor cases can be appealed to) filing appeals, you know.
Judge Kim is equal-opportunity insane to police officers and criminal defendants. A few years ago, when police officers didn’t have written notes to rely upon in a traffic case, Judge Kim ordered the officers to provide written explanations and apologies to the Court for failing to keep written notes. The Fraternal Order of Police sued Judge Kim personally. Judge Kim lost.
So what does Judge Kim do to retaliate? A few weeks later, a police officer reached for his cell phone in Court after being asked by the State’s Attorney to call a witness (did not call in the courtroom, just pulled it out). Judge Kim confiscated the cell phone for a week. He will berate attorneys in front of their clients and berate prosecutors in front of police officers.
There is not a lawyer, judge, or police officer in Montgomery County, Maryland who believes Judge Kim is fit to be on the bench. He’s a very bright attorney, which is frustrating, because when he hears civil cases, he is one of the better judges. But he’s a deeply troubled man.
Maybe Judge Kim’s punishment for this incident should have included anger management classes? It sounds like he certainly could use them.
Judge in Montgomery pays fine in traffic altercation [Washington Post]