PRINCESS ANNE — Seven years after achieving what legal scholars call “legislative senility,” R. Patrick Hayman hung up his black robe for the last time on New Year’s Eve. “All good things come to an end,” he said.
The District Court judge since 1999 had long ago reached Maryland’s mandatory retirement age of 70 on Dec. 19, 2008, but continued to preside when needed in the four Lower Shore counties. In part, he was waiting for his home along Wicomico Creek to be sold so he and his wife Carol could move full-time to Prescott, Arizona, located about 100 miles north of Phoenix.
While the house is under contract, “It may happen, it may not,” he said because there is a contingency on the sale. Once the property’s sold however, it will take another 60 days to vacate with the help of a moving company which will “do what needs to be done.” “I can’t do anymore heavy lifting,” he said.
Yet to be determined is what to take and what to leave behind — he is bracing for a challenge from his wife over his collection of some 50 firearms. If he loses this case, look for the weapons on gunbroker.com.
In the gallery during the morning of his last day on the bench were Circuit Court Judge Daniel M. Long and two court clerks, Melinda Sterling and Faith James, the chief deputy for Clerk of the Circuit Court Charles T. Horner, who himself stopped in.
“What are you charged with?”, Judge Hayman said to Judge Long, when he asked to approach the bench between cases. Judge Long turns 70 on July 29, 2017 and also will be forced into retirement status upon completing 27 years.
Another day on the job
Judge Hayman’s last day in District Court included the trial of a woman charged with malicious destruction of property and witness intimidation. Shanetra Tilghman of Princess Anne was accused by Amber Bradford of draining the oil from her 2004 GMC Envoy causing over $6,000 in damage when she tried to start it up. Bradford was a witness in a case against Tilghman, which was supposedly the motivation behind this alleged act of vandalism.
Without two witnesses to help confirm Bradford’s story, “it comes down to who do you believe,” said State’s Attorney Dan Powell. Public Defender Jennifer Turnbull however put the defendant and her sister on the stand and they said nothing happened on the dates in question and Tilghman was found not guilty.
With witnesses for each side unable to get the dates of their encounters correct when compared to court docket entries, Judge Hayman called their inability to follow a calendar “extremely casual” but “close enough for government work.” He later quoted the late Circuit Court Judge Lloyd L. “Hotdog” Simpkins by saying, “I think she did it but I don’t think the state has proved it.”
And in his final remarks, the judge said to the plaintiff that had this been a civil suit, the burden of proof had probably been met. “I suggest,” emphasizing it was only a suggestion, that Bradford file a civil suit for damages. But as the public defendersaid afterward, the outcome this day was still not guilty.
There was also the case of Ronald Wright, who received 18 months probation before judgment for taking away in the back of his Honda 26 football- sized rocks from county installed rip-rap in Crisfield. Wright had already made $500 in restitution to the County Roads Department, but the supervisor there would like Wright to replace the rocks as a condition of his probation.
The judge wanted to know if this was a modern version of someone being sentenced to work on a rock pile. “Instead of Angola (Prison) your honor, it’s Ape’s Hole,” explained State’s Attorney Powell.
To 16-year- old Traveon Satchell, Judge Hayman had no interest in granting a request by the public defender that a study be conducted to see if the Accomac teen’s case should be transferred to the juvenile justice system. When the judge learned the charge of armed robbery involved a firearm, “ You are old enough to be treated as an adult,” he said.
A long career comes to a close
Judge Hayman came to the bench after serving as assistant public defender for 26 years. He clerked for Lionel Bennett in Crisfield, who made him a partner in Bennett & Hayman, the first non-family law partnership in Somerset County. He attended Washington High School and graduated from St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, Del. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and served as a special agent in the U.S. Army’s Counter-Intelligence Corps. In 1971 he earned his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law.
It was Gov. Parris Glendening who appointed Judge Hayman to succeed the late Judge Robert Horsey, who retired in September 1999. The first courthouse he occupied was a building now owned by Go- Getters located on the corner of Somerset and Hampden avenues. It was built to replace what is today the judge master’s court next door to Circuit Court.
The new structure, however, had a severe mold problem — “the mold court” as Judge Hayman called it.
They eventually moved to the Somerset Plaza location, in the space once occupied by a Meatland supermarket.
At his retirement dinner in January 2009, Judge Hayman said he learned that after he was sworn-in, several attorneys were attempting to get a pool together on how long it would take before his “acerbic tongue” got him “canned.” Now stepping down seven years after mandatory retirement, other judges who relied on him to be the measure on how far you can go to speak your mind in court will have to start worrying again.
Referred to as “our canary,” the benchmark for other judges was simply, “As long as they don’t remove [Hayman], the rest of us have nothing to worry about.”
Richard Crumbacker is the General Manager of the County Times. He can be reached at RCrumbacker@newszap.com