ROCKVILLE – Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Audrey Creighton has retired from her judicial duties effective July 3, officials confirmed.
She will apparently use accumulated vacation pay and/ or accumulated leave and will no longer be on the bench from now until her retirement date, according to sources.
“I have just been informed she has retired effective July 3, but that it is her intention to use what leave she has between now and then,” Administrative Judge John Debelius III said.
Creighton’s retirement announcement comes almost a month after multiple sources confirmed the Commission on Judicial Disabilities had serviced disciplinary charges against her for judicial misconduct. According to the Maryland Rules on Judicial Conduct, the charges can become public 30 days after the Commission notifies the judge in order to give the judge time to respond.
The 30 days would have come up on June 17. The rules governing the Commission do not make specific provisions about how an investigation proceeds should a judge resign prior to the charges becoming public. However, the Commission no longer has jurisdiction if a judge resigns during an investigation, according to David Nitkin, spokesperson for the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.
“If a judge resigns from the bench during an investigation, the Commission on Judicial Disabilities is divested of jurisdiction,” Nitkin said.
Governor Martin O’Malley appointed Creighton to the circuit court from the district court in April 2014. Voters elected her, along with three other sitting judges, in the November 2014 elections.
Creighton came into the spotlight after she was the victim of false imprisonment in May 2014.
In January, Rickley Senning, 25, pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, second-degree assault and driving under the influence of alcohol. Senning did not plead guilty to a kidnapping charge. Judge Diane Leasure sentenced Senning to 10 years for each count to be served concurrently with all but three suspended and five years’ probation.
Since Senning pleaded guilty, the case did not go to trial.
Prince George’s County state’s attorney spokesperson John Erzen II said at the time Creighton had been prepared to testify against Senning had the case gone to trial.
Currently, Creighton is hearing only civil cases and helping with administrative work rather than hearing other types of cases. Administrative Judge John Debelius III made that decision after the November 2014 elections. Prior to that, Creighton had taken some personal leave right after the false imprisonment and was on chambers work leading up to the election in November.
During her election campaign, Creighton’s opponent, Daniel Connell, filed an open letter in light of the incident involving Senning and her relationship with him. Connell called into question whether Senning used her position as a judge to help Senning by harboring him and improperly referring him to a judge who ignored his outstanding bench warrant and instead released him in 2013 with a $250 fine while he was wanted on drug charges.
Judge Creighton and her attorney William Brennan were not immediately available for comment.
By Rebecca Guterman
Sentinel Staff Writer