A judge facing possible professional sanctions could also lose his opportunity to be reappointed to the Baltimore City District Court.
Judge Kevin Wilson was one of four judges scheduled to appear last Monday before the Senate Executive Nominations Committee for hearings on their renominations. But Wilson’s name was quietly stricken from the list prior to the committee’s Monday night hearing.
“The administration asked if we could hold off on his hearing,” Senate Executive Nominations Committee Chair Antonio Hayes (D-Baltimore City). “I don’t have any details about why.”
Hayes was surprised to learn of an allegation against Wilson for inappropriately touching a female lawyer at an event in Baltimore City.
Wilson, an associate judge, has served in the city district court system since his appointment in 2013 by then-Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).
With his 10-year term expiring, Wilson was subject to reappointment by Gov. Wes Moore (D).
In a statement delivered to Maryland Matters late Thursday night, a spokesperson for the governor said the judge’s reappointment is now “under review.”
To be reappointed, Wilson must attend a hearing under oath with the Senate Executive Nominations Committee.
The chair of the committee confirmed Thursday that Wilson was supposed to appear along with three other Baltimore City District Court judges — Martin D. Dorsey, Nicole Pastore, and Mark D. Scurti — who are also up for reappointment.
Hayes said the governor’s office “hasn’t said when they would be putting him back on the schedule or if they would put him back on.”
Hayes’ committee must then recommend confirmation, which is voted on by the full Senate.
That vote must be held before the legislature adjourns at midnight on April 8.
Wilson faces an upcoming hearing before the Commission on Judicial Disabilities following the filing of a complaint alleging the judge inappropriately touched a female attorney at an event last spring.
The charges against Wilson were first reported by The Daily Record.
Wilson attended a May 18 event sponsored by the Bar Association of Baltimore City Young Lawyers’ Division. While at that event, Wilson began talking to several attendees including a female attorney whom the judge complimented on her clothing, according to a statement of charges released by the commission.
Later at that event, as the woman was leaving, she stopped to speak to a group of people, standing with her back to Wilson.
The woman told the commission Wilson “touched her leg in an up and down movement.”
Two other unnamed attorneys at the table told the commission they saw the incident. One of them told the judge his “conduct was inappropriate,” according to the commission documents.
Despite the admonition, the female attorney told the commission Wilson touched her again. This time, moving his hand up the back of her leg and under her skirt where he touched her buttock.
The commission, in its report, said it found “probable cause to believe Judge Wilson committed sanctionable conduct.”
Wilson, in a response dated Jan. 31, told the commission the touching was part of what he considered mutual and consensual flirting.
“Based on his perception of [the female attorney’s] behavior throughout the evening, Judge Wilson formed a genuine belief that their interactions were mutual and welcomed,” Wilson’s attorneys wrote in the response.
But Wilson’s lawyers added that based on the attorney’s statement to the commission, “Judge Wilson realizes and acknowledges that his honest belief was incorrect, and his touching made her feel uncomfortable, which he sincerely apologizes for and deeply regrets.”
Wilson’s attorneys said the judge began voluntarily attending twice-a-month meetings in August with a female counselor to “improve his interpersonal skills, better recognize power dynamics, and avoid similar situations in the future. Judge Wilson’s commitment has already led to significant progress and growth.”
This story was updated to add a comment from the governor’s office.