VanPac News History

Times Publishing Company

St. Petersburg Times

December 23, 1989, Saturday, City Edition


LENGTH: 805 words

HEADLINE: Maryland judge injured in bombing

SOURCE: Compiled from Wire Reports


A Maryland state judge was injured Friday when an explosive device blew up in his home, prompting state and federal investigations to question whether the blast is linked to a recent rash of package-Bomb incidents in the southeastern United States.

Judge John P. Corderman, 47, of the Washington County Circuit, was in stable condition at Washington County Hospital Friday night after the Bomb detonated in his Hagerstown home at about 2:30 p.m.

A hospital spokeswoman, Diana Donegon, said the judge had undergone surgery to remove fragments from his stomach, abdomen and right hand.

She said he also suffered damage to his eardrums but had not lost consciousness.His life was "in no immediate danger."

Surgeon Charles Chaney said Corderman had the package in his lap when it exploded. "It was a life-threatening bomb," Chaney said. "It was not of small proportions."

The judge staggered to an outer hallway and set off a fire alarm, authorities said. H Federal agents quickly joined local authorities in the investigation, although they emphasized that they had no evidence connecting the Bomb that injured Corderman with the mail bombs that killed a federal appellate court judge near Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday and a lawyer in Savannah, Ga., on Monday.

One federal investigator said there were "dissimilarities" between the Bomb found Friday and those that have led to the wide investigation in the South.

In the Maryland incident, an unexploded pipe Bomb was found in the same package as the device that exploded;it was designed to detonate when the first one did, said Deputy Fire Marshal Faron Taylor.The building was evacuated and Bomb specialists disarmed the second device, he said.

A neighbor, Steven Keyes, 30, said he saw a deliveryman bring a package to the building about 20 minutes before the explosion.

"It looked like a normal person to me, a normal delivery," Keyes said.

Corderman, a 12-year member of the bench with a reputation for tough sentencing, was not at work Friday because the courthouse was closed for the Christmas holiday.

Some officials expressed concern that the attack on Corderman might have been work of a person or group attempting to copy the bombings in the South.Investigators said that they had no motive for the attack on Corderman.

"He's a judge.He's put a lot of people away," police Lt. Robert Frick said.

Several friends and colleagues of Corderman's described him as a strict judge who often imposed maximum sentences, especially in drug abuse and alcohol-related cases.

According to Baltimore lawyer Chris Brown, "He's the kind of gentleman who you like him or don't like him.He has rubbed people the wrong way."

Brown said the judge "takes unusual stances and gives lawyers a hard time.He's a very colorful outspoken, controversial judge."

Meanwhile, sources said Friday that colleagues of the Alabama judge have received threatening letters since the judge's death.

The letters were among those that surfaced after parcel bombs killed 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert Vance on Saturday and Savannah lawyer Robert Robinson two days later, the sources said.

A letter addressed to Vance was also among those delivered, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Justice Department spokesman David Runkel said he was unaware that letters had been delivered to judges on the 11th Circuit.

But he said there was "solid evidence" on four other threatening letters delivered this week linking them to the parcel bombs that killed Vance and Robinson as well as to two other bombs found this week.

Robinson's funeral is to be held today in Savannah.

Parcel bombs were also found at the Jacksonville chapter of the NAACP and the 11th Circuit courthouse in Atlanta.Both were disarmed.

Runkel declined to describe the common characteristics of the letters and the parcel bombs, but said the physical evidence may also provide a link to letters sent in August that declared war on the 11th Circuit.

The earlier letters, sent from Atlanta, threatened poison gas attacks on population centers until "widespread terror" forced the 11th Circuit to "adopt the impartial and equitable treatment of all."

- Information from AP, the New York Times and Washington Post was used in this report.