Dauphin County Magisterial District Judge Sonya McKnight has been suspended with pay while she faces criminal charges related to the arrest of her son.
McKnight surrendered to the booking center Wednesday on three misdemeanor charges filed by the attorney general’s office: tampering with evidence, obstruction of law and official oppression. She was released on unsecured bail.
Common Pleas Judge John F. Cherry issued an administrative order Thursday suspending her immediately and requiring her to vacate her office by the end of business hours Friday until the criminal charges are adjudicated.
A number of senior magisterial district judges assigned by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts will handle McKnight’s caseload during her absence.
The attorney general’s office charged McKnight in connection with a Feb. 22, 2020 traffic stop of her son Kevin Baltimore, 33, in the city of Harrisburg.
An officer pulled over Baltimore about 2:30 a.m. near North 6th and Peffer streets for an expired registration and he called his mother from the scene, court records said. McKnight arrived at the scene and questioned officers, according to the records.
Police allege that McKnight took a pill bottle from Baltimore’s vehicle and left the scene with it. Baltimore and McKnight told police it was his blood pressure medication, according to court records.
Police arrested Baltimore for possession of cocaine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. His next court appearance is set for Jan. 21.
Officers told state investigators that McKnight’s position as a judge allowed her “to freely move about the scene of the traffic stop.” They said had she been a normal citizen, “they would not have allowed her to do the things she did such as entering her son’s Volvo,” according to court records.
McKnight’s next court appearance was tentatively scheduled for Jan. 4.
“She recognizes that she did not make the best decision going out to the scene that night,” her attorney, Brian Perry told PennLive. “But we do not believe she committed any crimes.”
An outside magisterial district judge will be assigned to hear her case, to avoid any conflicts of interest.
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