A county judge was reprimanded for calling three black female lawyers "the Supremes" in court and advising the defendant to get "an experienced male attorney."

Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone has acknowledged that his comments suggested racial and sexual bias. In his written response to a complaint, Boone said he was trying to protect the three public defenders from representing a difficult defendant.

The Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities concluded the comments Boone made during a court hearing last April were "undignified and disparaging." The notice of reprimand was published Jan. 18 in the Maryland Register.

A stipulation by Boone and the Commission said that in June the judge offered to recuse himself from other cases the three attorneys handled.

Offering to recuse himself was the right thing to do, said Maryland Public Defender Nancy Forster, who filed the complaint in her official capacity.

Boone told the Herald-Mail of Hagerstown that he apologized to the three attorneys, and that even though he offered to recuse himself, each has appeared in his court since the April case.

"I appreciate their acceptance of my apology," he told the newspaper Tuesday. He also said he had never before had a sanctionable complaint filed against him.

The defendant in the case pleaded guilty in June to assault and cocaine possession and was sentenced to eight years in prison.