- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2008

ANNAPOLIS — A state lawmaker wants to remove the judge who dismissed charges against a suspected rapist after shecould not find an interpreter who spoke the suspect’s native language.

Delegate Patrick L. McDonough, Baltimore County Republican, introduced the proposalyesterday to impeach Montgomery County Judge Katherine D. Savage.

“The idea behind this is to send a message to the judiciary that the General Assembly, under the constitution, has the responsibility and the authority to oversee judicial decisions,” Mr. McDonough said.

Mrs. Savage dismissed charges against Mahamu Kanneh, a Liberian immigrant, after the court delayed the trial three years because it was having trouble finding an interpreter.

Mr. Kanneh speaks a relatively obscure West African language, Vai.

The impeachment motion would need support from two-thirds of the House before moving to the Senate.

“The address has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and will have a full and fair hearing,” said Alexandra Hughes, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat.

Mr. McDonough acknowledged his drive to impeach Mrs. Savage is unlikely to succeed, but said he’s more concerned with drawing attention to the Kanneh ruling.

“In this case it was so blatant,” he said. “It’s anti-crime victim, anti-child and anti-woman.”

Mr. McDonough also plans to send a letter to lawmakers asking them whether they will support the impeachment, oppose it, or not take a position. He said he plans to post responses on his Web site.

Circuit judges in Maryland serve 15-year terms. Judge Savage, one of 21 judges on the Montgomery County Circuit, joined the court in 2002. She was previously an associate judge for the District Court in Montgomery County.

The trial was delayed as prosecutors and defense attorneys argued whether Mr. Kanneh, who attended high school and community college in Montgomery County, needed an interpreter.

Witnesses said he raped and repeatedly sexually molested a 7-year-old relative.

After a court-appointed psychiatrist said he needed an interpreter, the court struggled to find one. The first interpreter left after becoming emotional while hearing the facts of the case, and the second became ill, according to a statement from Montgomery County State’s Attorney John J. McCarthy. A third interpreter participated in two hearings and was unavailable for the trial, he said.

This is the second recent attempt to oust a judge by a state lawmaker.

State lawmakers declined to remove the judge who ruled the state’s ban on same-sex “marriage” is unconstitutional. The ruling was ultimately overturned by the Maryland Court of Appeals.

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