William Bond’s crusade against Maryland’s legal establishment just won’t die
Published: November 28, 2012
For more than a decade, William Bond has pursued a labyrinthine course of litigation aimed at rooting out what he sees as pervasive injustice and corruption among major players in Maryland’s legal system. His belief in the crookedness of Maryland’s bench and bar is inextricably tied to something Bond did more than 30 years ago, when he was a 17-year-old high school student in Ohio named William Crockett Rovtar: He took a hammer to his father’s skull, stuffed the dead body in the trunk of a car, and abandoned it.
Bond’s litigation initially involved a child-custody dispute spawned by his juvenile record and the manuscript of a book he wrote, the narrative of which closely mirrors the crime he committed. Some of the attorneys in the resulting cases, who Bond claims engaged in misconduct, were later defense attorneys in the criminal case against former Maryland state Sen. Thomas Bromwell, who was convicted of corruption in 2007 and remains in prison. In 2009, Bond attempted to intervene in the Bromwell case and have the judge unseal portions of the record that, Bond believed, would reveal the attorneys as bad actors. He almost succeeded—the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office did not oppose his motions—but ultimately lost.
In August, Bond revived his 2009 attempt in the Bromwell case, filing a renewed motion to have U.S. District Judge Frederick Motz unseal the court records—or, if Motz doesn’t, recuse himself from all further Bromwell proceedings, since Bond alleges that Motz’s impartiality is clouded by his relationships with the attorneys whose reputations could be damaged by public disclosure of the documents. In October, since Motz still hadn’t ruled on the motion, Bond made a formal request that Motz issue a ruling.
So far, Motz hasn’t ruled on Bond’s pleadings. But based on Motz’ prior decisions—which shut down Bond’s prior efforts in 2009 to unseal the records, despite the fact that the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office did not oppose Bond’s motions, and which were upheld on appeal—the odds are long that Bond will find success.
“For whatever reason,” Bond says during a recent interview at a Cross Keys coffee shop, Motz “has decided that I cannot have justice.”
After pleading guilty to killing his father, Rovtar, who legally changed his last name to Bond in 1983, Bond was ordered by an Ohio judge to undergo psychiatric treatment at Sheppard Pratt in Baltimore County, and he’s remained in Maryland ever since.
For a long time, Bond lived well in Maryland, without being publicly haunted by his juvenile past. But since Bond got married in 2001, his seemingly ceaseless legal battles—with his wife’s family, a host of attorneys, the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, state prosecutors who had him arrested for illegally purchasing guns, the U.S. Department of Justice, and The Washington Post, which twice ran scathing profiles of him—have plastered his blood-splattered story all over the permanently public records of state and federal courts.
Many of the legal fights concerned the manuscript of a book Bond wrote and hoped to publish, entitled Self-Portrait of a Patricide, which, in many respects, paralleled the facts of his father’s murder. The manuscript was used against Bond in a child-custody battle with his wife’s family, and Bond says it was stolen from him, but courts repeatedly have ruled it had not been—an improper and irrational finding, Bond insists, since it was his property, obtained without his knowledge or permission by his adversaries from Bond’s late attorney’s widow. He had it copyrighted shortly after learning it had been obtained and would be used against him.
All the litigation, all the court decisions against him, all of Bond’s righteous indignation over his treatment by lawyers and judges “really all goes back to my copyright case,” says Bond.
In the midst of these expensive fights, which inexorably drained the family wealth he and his former wife (they were divorced in 2009) had enjoyed, Bond had a debilitating bicycle accident and, he recalls, spent about a year, bed-ridden, in recovery. With time to think, Bond had a revelation: Maryland’s judicial system is, to him, more than simply unjust; it is, thanks to the undue influence of a fraternity of highly placed judges and attorneys, corrupt.
Since then, Bond has dedicated himself—without the benefit of an attorney to represent him and, increasingly, without sufficient means even to pay rent for housing—to exposing what he believes are the crooked ways of Maryland’s bar and bench. In 2010, without success, Bond even took his allegations to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to take up the issues he presented in a 35-page brief spelling out precisely the evidence he’d collected of judicial and attorney misconduct in the cases involving his book manuscript.
Success has been elusive for the most part. About the only victories Bond can claim are that the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office did not oppose his efforts to unseal parts of the Bromwell docket—and the fact that, for a while in 2004 and 2005, federal prosecutors formally took up his allegations of judicial and attorney misconduct for investigation. Ultimately, though, their probe was dropped.
Yet Bond continues his fight, sniffing out new avenues while keeping up his efforts in old ones to keep his doomed-looking crusade alive. He’s undaunted by Motz’s written opinion in Bond’s prior effort to unseal records in the Bromwell case, which stated that “this court will not permit itself to be a medium through which unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoing made by a convicted felon would be publicized, causing irreparable damage to the reputations of third parties who are the subject of the allegations.”
To Bond, Motz’s words belie what he sees as the judge’s lack of impartiality, borne of loyalty to fellow members of the courthouse fraternity—an I-got-your-back culture that he argues has taken hold throughout the court system. As Bond states in his latest motion, Motz “clearly admits to ‘old relationships’” with attorneys in the Bromwell case, while the federal appellate-court judge who upheld Motz’s earlier Bromwell ruling has a “too-close friendship” with Motz and “would never judicially reprimand his too-close friend in ways that would cause public embarrassment, nor subject him to judicial discipline.”
Yet, despite the crusading, public-spirited flavor of his pursuits, Bond also says his core goal is mercantile and personal: to reverse the earlier court rulings about his copyrighted manuscript and thereby regain lost funds and restore his reputation. If, against all odds, Motz grants Bond’s motion for recusal and for unsealing the Bromwell records, he says he’ll use it to show he was right all along about how his cases had been fixed against him.
“I’ve never, ever wanted to branch out,” Bond says. “I wanted to stay on the people who stole my book, the people who arrested me, the people who destroyed my family. But these people, these corrupt lawyers and judges, they fucked Lady Justice, and here I am. I want vindication and restitution.”
Editor’s Note: Just as this issue was going to press, U.S. District judge Frederick Motz denied William Bond’s motion to intervene and unseal records in the Thomas Bromwell case.
Correction: The story “Zombie Litigator” (Mobtown Beat, Nov. 28), we stated that William
Bond “plead[ed] guilty to killing his father.” He was, in fact, adjudicated a delinquent in the death
of his father.
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