THE BOGEYMAN DEFENSE: WILL IT WORK FOR JUDGE MICHAEL WHITE, OR WILL HE BE DEFROCKED AND PERHAPS HANDCUFFED
BY KEN ROSSIGNOL
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
ANNAPOLIS, MD. – What could have been a slap on the wrist of the Chief Judge of the St. Mary’s County Orphans Court by the Maryland Judicial Disabilities Commission was rejected by Judge Michael White and led to a full hearing of the charges against him at the first public hearing on June 26, 2023, for such a complaint in the history of the Maryland Judiciary.
Maryland has previously given an opportunity for a Judge to take some bitter medicine when caught red-handed with such deeds, which may cause the public to realize what corrupt sleazeballs sit on cases on the various judicial panels in Maryland.
In this case, Judge Michael White, first elected to the Orphans Court of St. Mary’s in 2014 and reelected two more times as recently as 2022, failed to cooperate with the counsel of the Maryland Commission On Judicial Disabilities numerous times, promised to provide documents that counsel requested of him and his attorney Clarke Ahlers, and stalled the investigation which consumed more than a year before culminating in the hearing on Monday, June 26th.
Deputy Assistant Investigative Counsel: Derek A. Bayne, Esq. laid out the complaint against Judge Michael White and stipulated to the facts of the investigation into Judge White.
“The Judge lacked candor in a deposition about his signature,” said Bayne. “The Judge repeatedly stated, “I don’t know.” Bayne listed other offenses for which the tribunal was called to adjudicate, including failing to cooperate with the investigation and lying about his finances on State of Maryland ethical disclosure forms for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
“Every Judge is required to file these statements so any citizen can go to review these disclosures prior to having cases before them,” said Bayne.
Bayne noted that Judge Michael White missed the mark on his financial disclosure statements in some years between what he disclosed and what his actual tax documents showed he made by nearly a half million dollars – not a small discrepancy. Bayne noted that Judge White reported his income two years in a row as being $200,000 annually for his role as Chief Financial Officer of Compass Marketing, a firm based in Annapolis owned in the majority by John White with minority ownership held by Daniel White and Michael White each with sixteen percent ownership.
In contrast, Counsel Bayne laid out to the members of the panel at the hearing in Annapolis that the income of Judge White was actually as much as $702,824 in one of the years he disclosed only $200,000.
Bayne recited the numerous times that during a sworn deposition as part of litigation in a court case that Judge White recited the words: “I don’t know”. Chapter and verse of the nine times that Judge White gave the same answer when asked if a signature on various documents was indeed his own signature. Bayne noted that each time the answer from Judge White was the same, without offering any explanation as to why he was unable to identify his own legally attached signature.
In addition to the above transgressions on the part of Judge White, the investigation revealed that Judge White failed to report his part ownership of an illegal gambling operation in Waldorf, known as Woodville Pines LLC. Judge Michael White, along with his son, Maryland State Police Lt. George White, operated the garage poker series for several years and applied for and received a Payroll Protection Plan grant from the federal government, swearing under penalty of perjury that their application was truthful, and the loan was forgiven, according to government records, even though both men were employed and didn’t lose any income due to the Wuhan Pandemic.
The most recent in a spate of Orphans Court Judges to be reigned in by the Maryland Disabilities Commission, which also occasionally bags District Court and Circuit Court Judges, Judge Michael White, cause disrepute for the Judiciary, asserted Bayne in his presentation.
NADA TO COUNSEL; JUDGE WHITE’S ATTORNEY QUITS
“Failure to cooperate with the investigation causes disrespect for the Judiciary with the public due to his lack of candor in court proceedings,” said Bayne. “The commission asked for access to documents into the Woodville Pines on May 9, 2022, and got no response.”
Bayne stated that attorney Ahlers’ assistant “…wrote me back the next day saying he would respond shortly and later said that Judge White declined to provide any of the information we requested. On August 10, 2022, Ahlers said he no longer represents Judge White.”
Frustrated at the lack of cooperation from Judge Michael White, Bayne told the panel that Counsel was forced to issue subpoenas for the documents needed from banks and tax records.
“On August 22, 2022, emails were received from Judge White with some materials and stated that he had to assert Fifth Amendment status as he was the subject of an open criminal investigation. He provided some documentation that he said were shareholder loan letters, but Judge White still refused to provide tax returns resulting in more delays due to the need to issue subpoenas.”
Bayne then said more delays in the investigation were due to claims from Ahlers and White that staff of the commission had leaked details of the investigation, had released confidential information, and caused him to have to stop the forward motion of the investigation, and examine all files and explore if there was any validity to the claims, which there was not.
Bayne once more asserted that it was critical that a Judge must obey the law in order to have the confidence of the public.
“Judges should expect to be subject to public scrutiny,” said Bayne. “Judge White was evasive in his answers in a deposition while we expect our Judges to be open books.”
“The Orphans Court may be the only court that the average citizen comes in contact with as we all will need this court to settle estates and need to have the utmost confidence in the court, and Judge White’s conduct has thrown that into doubt,” said Bayne. “He alluded to Fifth Amendment issues as to possible criminal investigations; he attempted to incriminate others, was evasive, and finally put an end to cooperation. Litigants (in Orphans Court) have the right to know the financial connections of Judges and their failure to provide proper disclosures.”
I WAS AFRAID OF THE BOOGEYMAN
Counsel Bayne reserved his remaining eight minutes for rebuttal, and Chairman Michael Reed, a Circuit Court Judge, then called on Judge White to give his side of the story, affirming that he understood he had a right to be represented by an attorney and was assured by Judge Michael White that he was proceeding without an attorney. Judge Michael White’s brother Daniel White, the former Deputy St. Mary’s County States Attorney, was in the audience but failed to act as an attorney for his brother. Daniel White served as the Chief Counsel of Compass Marketing until he and Michael were removed from active participation in the company. Maryland State Police Lt. George White was also present.
Judge Michael White thanked the commission for their time and the opportunity to present his answer to the recommended reprimand for his alleged transgressions as outlined by the Commission Counsel. White then provided a copy of the statement he was about to give to each member of the panel.
“Terrible lies about me and my family have been told throughout this process, I have been elected three times as Orphans Court Judge, and it would have been a lot easier to resign.”
White said that these troubles all started when in 2018, he reported a group of thieves called Tagnetics, to the Security and Exchange Commission, with the participants being Annapolis attorney Stephen Stern and his brother John White.
“They have filed numerous lawsuits and, with the help of an online Tabloid,” said Judge White, spread their lies.
White seemed surprised that in the electronic era, a news story about a court filing by litigants would actually be published the same day.
“In 2022, the thieves field a copy of their lawsuit, and the Tabloid (which Judge White later identified as THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY) the Tabloid printed the story the day it was filed.”
White accused “the thieves” of manipulating the investigative counsel with allegations in civil suits. Judge White also accused former Anne Arundel Sheriff Ronald Bateman of fabricating documents.
“I KNOW THEY ARE UP TO NO GOOD”
Judge Michael White then uttered a phrase that will warm the hearts of any Tabloid Publisher anywhere when he proclaimed to the Commission on Judicial Disabilities that the “thieves” who he said were manipulating the pliable and hopelessly gullible investigators “I know they are up to no good.”
Judge White then proceeded to lay out why he repeatedly denied knowing his own signature in the deposition cited by Bayne.
“When I know that they have used false documents, I didn’t know if they were true is why I answered that way. They are all liars, Stern and Bateman. I have been a Maryland State Police investigator for twenty years, and I have known what they were doing, and they told the Tabloid in St. Mary’s what they were doing.”
Judge White then proceeded to play for the panel a real tabloid story of his brother John White making a report of an alleged kidnapping attempt to Annapolis Police, using both a 911 call recording and a police body cam video. The presentation must have felt like a good idea for Judge White to use if he had some friends over for a few Bud Lights over the previous weekend, but the attempt to use his brother reporting what he believed to be a kidnapping attempt fell somewhere between a UFO report and the most recent Hunter Biden laptop revelation.
REBUTTAL TO JUDGE WHITE; “THAT WAS A LOT.”
Counsel Bayne said Judge White’s presentation was “a lot.” “Judge White is correct that I did not bring up a lot because none of that is relevant.”
“Eight times Judge White was unbecoming of a Judicial Officer,” said Bayne. When I asked him about his signature on two checks made out to him and signed by him drawn on M&T Bank, checks #1160 and #1180, and deposited to his own checking account, he responded with ‘I don’t know’”. I think his behavior was unbecoming of a judicial officer; he was evasive and not honest; he should believe in the process that would lead to the truth.”
The panel ended the hearing and kicked out the public. It is expected that the Commission will come to a conclusion about the future of Judge Michael White as a member of the Judiciary and forward their decision to the Maryland Supreme Court, formerly known as the Maryland Court of Appeals. Should the high court kick Judge White off the bench, the Governor will appoint a replacement. Ellynne Brice Davis came within 75 votes of replacing Michael White in last year’s GOP primary and was in attendance at the hearing as a spectator.
Possible competition for further action in regard to Judge White would be any recognition by the Office of the State Prosecutor for failing to file ethics disclosures properly and any federal prosecutors who aren’t busy with Hunter Biden or Joe Biden’s crime circus to consider possible fraud charges in connection with the PPP loans.