Panel nixes Dwyer's bid to remove judge By DAVID ABRAMS, Staff Writer Del. Don Dwyer Jr.'s extraordinary attempt to remove a Baltimore judge from the bench for ruling that the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional came to an end last night when the House Judiciary Committee voted 20-3 to kill the measure. "That was the dumbest thing I've seen in eight years," said Del. Bobby Zirkin, D-Baltimore, after an hourlong debate that ran until 11:25 p.m. "It was a frivolous waste of taxpayer money and a bizarre attack on the constitution." Mr. Dwyer, R-Glen Burnie, tried to convince his fellow members of the committee to call Baltimore Circuit Court Judge M. Brooke Murdock in for questioning. The legislature can ask the governor to remove a judge from office for "misbehavior in office, willful neglect of duty, and incompetency." Mr. Dwyer argued that Judge Murdock's January ruling ignored the will of the General Assembly in crafting a 1973 law defining marriage as being only between one man and one woman. "We are, as I've stated before, the guardians of the public trust," he told the committee. While several members criticized the decision by the judge - which will be reviewed by the Maryland Court of Appeals before having any real effect on the laws of the state - others compared Mr. Dwyer's move to kicking the judge off the bench for showing up two minutes late to court. "If we think her showing up two minutes late is incompetency, we should throw her out," said Del. Anthony Brown, D-Prince George's. "I don't think it's there." The move by Mr. Dwyer, known as an "address" or a "memorial," had been tried only once before in state history - back in 1860, when Judge Henry Stump was removed for acting in a gross and vulgar manner from the bench, including being drunk. Although the call for the judge's removal was highly unusual and ridiculous to some, others said there was a need to hear from the judge. "This is a rather extraordinary remedy Del. Dwyer has proposed, but this was a rather extraordinary decision," said Del. Christopher Shank, R-Washington, one of the delegates who supported holding a public hearing. Critics said calling the judge to Annapolis would have a "chilling effect" on all judges and take away their ability to render opinions without intimidation. "If the people are displeased with her decision, they can register their displeasure at the polls, which I believe is appropriate," said Del. Herb McMillan, R-Annapolis. Mr. Dwyer has few supporters in the legislature, but his office has been inundated with more than 1,000 e-mails from all over the country in the last two days endorsing his tactics. "A million thank yous would not be enough," wrote Julie Vela of Sammamish, Wash. "My prayer is that this will send a message to those who believe they are above the law and above the people's majority. I will not type in 'judge' for she has indeed made a mockery of her oath of office, and violated the people of Maryland's trust." Other messages came from Massachusetts, China, Indonesia and Canada. "I'm sure you mean well, however you only make things worse by trying to legislate against other people's value systems," wrote Joseph Udall of Stevenson, Wash., one of more than a dozen opponents who wrote to Mr. Dwyer. "What you have set forth as an example of legislating from the bench just doesn't make the grade. There is a better way. Think about it and try it."