Judge ‘guilty' in tire deflation over parking

Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009

A Charles County judge said Tuesday that he flattened the tire of someone who persisted in parking in reserved spaces near the courthouse.

"Absolutely, I plead guilty," said Charles County Circuit Court Judge Robert C. Nalley.

The judge said someone parked in the restricted area repeatedly, even though Nalley had left notes and deflated the person's tire on previous occasions. Instead of inconveniencing the vehicle's driver by calling police and having the vehicle towed, Nalley simply let the air out of one tire Monday, he said.

"I noticed the car is not there for the first time in several days," Nalley said Tuesday.

Jean Washington, whose tire was deflated Monday, said that she didn't know she wasn't supposed to park in the restricted area. Washington said she parks beside the courthouse every day because she works there until 8:30 p.m. and doesn't like to walk a long distance to her car when it's dark outside.

She said she's never received a note about parking in the space nor had her tire flattened before. Washington added that she filed a report with the La Plata Police Department.

"I was very upset … and I'm just still in shock," she said.

The La Plata police said they are looking into a tire-flattening that happened on Monday afternoon. Officers went to the Charles County Courthouse at about 3:45 p.m. when they received a call from a woman reporting that the right rear tire on her vehicle was deflated, according to Chief Cassin B. Gittings.

The tire wasn't damaged, and an officer was able to re-inflate it, Gittings said.

"[Courthouse] parking … is a challenge, and I don't blame someone for cheating a little bit, but there are signs there that say, ‘Restricted Parking,'" Nalley said. The judge added that he is supposed to park in the reserved space as long as the signs are standing, although he has tried to get them removed.

Nalley said he doesn't know if the police are looking into the incident and that he hasn't been interviewed by any officers.

"But I'll surrender if they ask me to," he said.