The Bar Association of Montgomery County, MD, founded in 1894, has truly grown along with its community. Drawing from the memories and attics of many members of the Bench and Bar, the Association published in its newsletter, for a time, a series of articles titled merely "Nostalgia", that tell, in the voices of those who have lived and served here, the history not only of the Bar Association, but of the Montgomery County community as well.
We have chosen to share these historically rich documents with our community to better understand and preserve our common history. Often witty and frequently poignant, these articles truly reflect our growth as both a Bar Association and community.
The Memorial Index pays tribute to members of our Bench and Bar from the over one hundred years of the Bar Association's history.
The Birth of the Bar By William M. Canby, Past President
A new courthouse graced the Rockville of the 1890's, its cathedral-like tower dominating the county seat of some 1,100 residents. Inside, a single, spacious courtroom glowed in the light of large windows crowned with half-moons of stained glass. From the courtroom, a large frame door led to the judges' room the likely meeting place of the dozen or so lawyers who founded the Bar Association of Montgomery County in 1894.*
The founders could easily be called distinguished. Three served on the bench of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, a fourth was Clerk of that court, and all served their community and country as well as the Bar. Typical of small-town families, several shared more than a reverence for the law: two were brothers, whose sister was the wife of a third; two others were brothers-in-law; and perhaps half took their secondary schooling at the same local institution, the Rockville Academy. Theirs was an atmosphere of collegiality. These ties endure through time: for example, I am related by blood to four of those founders, and other Association members enjoy similar links. In the county seat, many surviving homes of founders and early members remind us of that past. The founders were pioneers not only in the County but in the state.
By 1900 only three other Maryland counties had Bar Associations: Allegany, Garrett, and Washington. Montgomery's may have been the first. County, country, and world were, of course, vastly different places then. Montgomery County at the time was largely a farming community; the 1890 Census lists only 27,185 Montgomeryites; the 1900 Census, 30,407. Twenty miles down the pike from Rockville, in that larger capital city, President Cleveland had just stepped aside for President McKinley. Utah was about to become the forty-fourth state, the first U.S. Open Golf championship took place, and Babe Ruth was born. Abroad, Karl Marx had just published Das Kapital, and Oscar Wilde was losing a libel action against the Marquis of Queensberry after being accused of homosexual relations.
No records survive of the founders' 1894 organizational meeting. But handwritten minutes taken during the next few years reveal their concerns and aspirations-concerns differing little from those of their descendants in the profession a century later. The earliest minutes find them gathered at mid-afternoon on May 8, 1895, "in the Judges' room in the Court House, the President, Mr. Thomas Anderson, in the chair." There's serious work to be done. They read the Constitution adopted at the last meeting, and signed it: President Thomas Anderson, H. Maurice Talbott, Vice-President; Philip D. Laird, Secretary and Treasure; William Veirs Bouic, Jr., Charles W. Prettyman, Robert B. Peter, and, though the original document and names are lost, unquestionable also Edward C. Peter, Thomas L. Dawson, James B. Hernderson, Frank Higgins, Alexander Kilgour, and Samuel Riggs of R (meaning son of Reuben -there were several Samuel Riggs in the county of that day).
The Constitution stated as the group's primary goal "to aid in maintaining the honor and dignity of the profession of the law." The brief document listed other "Objects": "to acquire and maintain a law library," and " to prescribe a schedule of minimum fees to be fixed by the By-Laws." The Constitution prescribed an annual meeting on the first Wednesday in May, required the presence of nine members for a quorum (this would prove troublesome for the small group), and set an admission fee of $5 and annual dues of like amount. At that same first meeting founder E.C. Peter "reported a schedule of fees to be charged by the members, " and these they debated and amended before adopting 41 of them. According to the agreed-upon schedule, trial of a damages suit in Circuit Court demanded a fee of not less than $25, and the same for defending. "For any Chancery suit to obtain a divorce...not less than $25."
The minutes show the members meeting again in September, 1895, this time to formally adopt the by-laws. On a motion by Circuit Judge Henderson they stiffened the article on suspensions. At Mr. Prettyman's suggestion they ordered the printing of "fifty copies of the constitution and By-Laws." The quorum requirements frustrated the annual meeting on May 6, 1896, but the requisite nine members attended a make-up session on May 11. Among the quorum was George M. Anderson, brother and partner of Thomas and sire of two more generations of prominent Association members. The group re-elected its founding officers. It also observed the passing of one of its finest, Circuit Judge William Veirs Bouic, Sr., father of founder Bouic and father-in-law of Prettyman.
Ten members attended an August 5 meeting, including W.H. Talbott, probably a cousin of Maurice. Before them, important communications awaited action. President Anderson reported an invitation from the American Bar Association to send two delegates to a meeting in Saratoga Springs, New York. The members designated Anderson and Judge Henderson. (Not until 1991, when the MCBA memberships exceeded 2,000, would it again be invited to send delegates to the ABA.)
A second invitation, from the Allegany County Bar, suggested "the formation of a State Bar Association," and invited delegates. The members designated six: the two Talbotts, Judge Henderson, E.C. Peter, Bouic, and S. Riggs of R. The Association also noted that "the Land Records of this County have become almost illegible by reason of fading," and asked the Circuit Judges to look into the matter and act accordingly. Quorums posed no problem at the three ensuing annual meetings; at each, the members re-elected the same durable officers. To enhance the Association's law library, they "authorized and directed to have constructed, in the Judges' Room in the Court House, a book case for the Books of the Bar Association."
The close of the century also ended an era for the Association. A special meeting, called in January 1900, saw "Mr. H. Maurice Talbott, Vice-President, in the chair." They were meeting, he announced, "to take action upon the death of Mr. Thomas Anderson, President of the Association, and oldest member of the Bar of Montgomery County." They resolved that the "members of the Bar attend the funeral of Mr. Anderson in a body..." The following biographies briefly introduce the known founders:
George M. Anderson was born in Rockville in 1857, the youngest of ten children born to Captain James Anderson, Clerk of the Circuit Court at the time of the Association's founding. He attended St. Johns College in Annapolis and the Military Academy at West Point. He practiced briefly in Rockville in partnership with founder Samuel Riggs of R and served in the Maryland House of Delegates before taking a position with the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Anderson was the father of Judge Thomas M. Anderson of the Montgomery Circuit Court and grandfather of the late State Senator Thomas M. Anderson, Jr.
Thomas Anderson, second-oldest of ten children of Capt. James Anderson, was born in 1835 on a 250-acre farm, which is now the site of the Rockville campus of Montgomery College. He entered upon the practice of law in 1862 and in 1870 formed a partnership with founder William Veirs Bouic, Jr. that continued for 30 years until his death. Thomas Anderson was the first President of the Association and continued in that office until his death in 1900 at age 65.
William Veirs Bouic, Jr., was born in 1846 at Meadow Hall, two miles east of Rockville. He was the son of the distinguished Judge William Veirs Bouic, and his sister was the wife of founder Charles W. Prettyman. He commenced practicing law in 1870 and soon associated with founder Thomas Anderson, with their office in Rockville. Mr. Bouic was a charter member of the Association Executive Committee. He was active in politics as a Democrat and was elected to the State Senate in 1897. He also served as a Commissioner of Rockville and later as Mayor. He was an active farmer and served as an officer of the Agricultural Society. Both his son, Albert Bouic, and grandson, William, became distinguished members of the Montgomery County Bar and the Association. Albert Bouic married Fannie Peter, a daughter of Founder Edward C. Peter, and his entertaining memoirs have contributed greatly to this centennial publication. William Veirs Bouic, Jr., died in 1906
Thomas Dawson was born in 1857 on the Dawson Farm just east of the present Richard Montgomery High School, the son of Rockville attorney and farmer Lawrence A. Dawson and Mary Elizabeth. Mr. Dawson attended the Rockville Academy. He followed farming as a young man and later became a merchant and postmaster of Rockville before becoming a lawyer. Mr. Dawson took up the practice of law in 1804 and soon was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court (reputedly the only Republican to have held that office). He married Mary A. Peter, sister of founders Robert and Edward C. Their son, Thomas L. Dawson, served as state's Attorney of Montgomery County and Secretary of the State of Maryland. Mr. Dawson's brother, George C., was Register of Wills of Montgomery County when the Association was founded. Thomas Dawson died in 1923.
James B. Henderson served two terms as State's Attorney from 1880 to 1887 and was appointed Judge of the Circuit Court by Governor Frank Brown; he took office January 1, 1895, in time to be listed as an "Honorable" among the Association founders. For many years he practiced law in Rockville in association with George Peter, father of founders Robert and Edward. Judge Henderson was born on a large farm in Neelsville, Montgomery County, and later resided in Rockville.
Frank Higgins is believed to have been a charter member of the Association. He was born in 1861 on a 1,000-acre homestead just east of Rockville, part of which became Springlake Park adjacent to the Parklawn area. Mr. Higgins' father, J.H. Higgins, was a Rockville merchant. Frank studied law under founder H.M. Talbott and commenced the practice of law in Rockville in 1891. He served as an examiner in Chancery, was first County Chairman of the Prohibition Party, and did "all within his power to suppress the great evil of open saloons and unrestricted sale of liquor."
Alexander Kilgour is thought to have been a charter member of the Association. He was born near Rockville in 1858, studied law under Judge A.W. Chilton in Alexandria, Virginia, and, after practicing law briefly in Alexandria, started a practice in Rockville, In 1895 Mr. Kilgour was elected State's Attorney for Montgomery County to succeed founder James B. Henderson when he became a Circuit Court Judge. He died trying a case in the Rockville court.
Philip D. Laird was born of solid Eastern Shore stock in 1846 in Dorchester County, Maryland. He moved from Cambridge to Rockville at about the time of the founding of the Association and at once became prominent in the practice of law. Possibly his marriage to Ella Goldsborough Magruder, daughter of Dr. William Magruder of Oakley, the historic farm and home near Olney, caused Philip Laird to relocate to Montgomery County. He served as treasurer of the Montgomery county Agricultural Society and vestryman of Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville, and was founder of Farmers Banking and Trust Company. Philip D. Laird served Montgomery County in the House of Delegates, where he rapidly rose to position of Speaker. He died in 1920, apparently without survivors other than his widow, Ella.
The Peter brothers, Edward C. and Robert B., were destined by lineage for distinguished careers in public service. Their great grandfather, Robert, was the first mayor of Georgetown, then part of Montgomery County. Their grandfather, Major George Peter, Commanded a battalion of light infantry in the War of 1812 in which Francis Scott Key served, was elected t three term in Congress, and became a major County land owner, located near Darnestown. Their father, George Peter, practiced law with founder James B. Henderson, won renown as an appellate lawyer, and served as president of the State Senate. Edward C. and Robert B. Peter had two brothers, who also were lawyers and three sisters, all of whom married lawyers. Daughter Mary's husband was founder Thomas L. Dawson.
Edward C. Peter, who was born in Rockville in 1862, attended the Rockville Academy, studied law under his father and Judge James B. Henderson, and at age 21 began the practice of law. In 1887 he was elected State's Attorney and was re-elected in 1891. In 1888 he married Mary Gordon Vinson, daughter of Judge John T. Vinson. Their daughter, Fannie, married Albert M. Bouic, of memoirs fame. Edward C. Peter was elected Associate Judge of the Circuit Court in 1910 and continued in that office until his death in 1923. Younger brother Robert, born six years after Edward, also attended Rockville Academy. For several years he taught in Indian Schools in South Dakota. He married Helen B. Lowry, a sister of the wife of founder Samuel Riggs of R, and their one son, Robert B., Jr., also became a respected member of the Montgomery County Bar. Robert B. served as Auditor of the Circuit Court and State's Attorney before being appointed by Governor Ritchie to succeed his brother Edward C. as Associate Judge of the Circuit Court, where he served until poor health caused him to resign in 1932. He died in 1936.
Charles W. Prettyman was born in Brookeville, Montgomery County, in 1857. His father was principal of Brookeville Academy and later Clerk of the Circuit Court. At the time of the founding of the Association, Mr. Prettyman was associated with W.H. Talbott in the practice of law in Rockville. His wife, Rosa, was the daughter of the distinguished Judge W.V. Bouic. Their son, William F. Prettyman, better known as "Mr. Will", practiced law well into the ninth decade of his life and was known by many practicing law in the County today.
Samuel Riggs was born in 1869 in the historic Riggs home known as The Oaks, located on Riggs road near the town of Laytonsville. Captain Sam, as he was known by family and friends, practiced law briefly in the old Red Brick courthouse in Rockville in the 1890's. He married Ida Frances Lowry in 1897, then served in the Maryland infantry during the Spanish American War, rising to the rank of captain. He later served in the Philippines and for his gallantry was awarded the Silver Star in 1900-reputedly the first-ever recipient of the medal. Captain Sam did not return to the practice of law after his military service, but he lived in Rockville and was a director of Montgomery Mutual Insurance Company for twenty years. He died in 1943.
H. Maurice Talbott was born in 1851 in Shephedstown, West Virginia. He obtained his law degree in 1872 and engaged in the grain business in Georgetown for about a decade before commencing the practice of law in Rockville with William Hyde Talbott, probably a cousin. H. Maurice served as the charter Vice-President of the Association and succeeded Thomas Anderson as President. Barnard T. Welsh, a most respected and loved member of the Association until his death in 1988, was a grandson of H. Maurice Talbott. Mr. Talbott died in 1934.
* The term "likely" occurs because the founders left no known minutes of their first meeting of incorporation. The earliest records find them gathering "in the Judges' room in the Court House." It firmly spelled out conditions for which members could be suspended or expelled: "for misconduct in his relations to this association, or in his profession, or for any breach of his professional duties or obligations, or for violation of his agreement to abide by the schedule of fees..."
The Bar Association Grows Along With Montgomery County By Beverly C. Mondin-Vander Haar, Executive Director
When those pioneering Rockville lawyers met a century ago to form the Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland, our records through the original handwritten minutes of 1894, indicate that there were 13 dues paying members. Each member paid a $5.00 admission fee and $5.00 annual dues to attend meetings in the 1890's. The names on that original roster read like a present day street and road map of the county. For three decades the Association grew at a glacial rate, somewhat like the county, at least by modern standards. We know that when Vivian Simpson joined the Association in 1927 as the first woman lawyer, the membership was very small, with 27 attorneys and three judges. All of the members could meet at the second Hungerford Tavern and later at the counter of Peoples Drug Store. The entire population of the county was still well under 50,000.
Association membership had risen to only 57 attorneys by 1942, when the county population passed the 85,000 mark, leaving the ratio of lawyers to residents still beneath one per 1,500. Both the county population and the lawyer-to-resident ratio soared after World War II. By 1953 the County population doubled that of the 11 years previous, and the Association claimed 153 members, approaching one lawyer per 1,000 residents. This was the time that the building industry in the county exploded, creating towns where cows once grazed and peach trees bloomed. Wheaton, where Veirs Mill Village homes were sold in the $6,000 range, led the way with nearly 25,000 housing units built in the 1950's.
At the time, land use as a legal specialty was embryonic. Silver Spring attorney R. Robert Linowes emerged as a giant in shaping development. Simultaneously, returning veterans attended law school under the G.I. Bill and swelled the ranks of lawyers. Another surge in Bar Association membership began in the late 1960's. Many lawyers fled the riot-torn streets of Washington, D.C. and moved their offices to Montgomery County to feed the upward spiral.
In 1965 the Association membership hired its first employee. That is when Colonel Vander Veer arrived to set up and operate the Lawyer Referral Service under the presidency of Vincent L. Gingerich. The Colonel started out part-time but quickly became full time because of the program's success. Shortly thereafter a part-time secretary, Shirley Bromberg, joined the Colonel to assist in running the service. The Lawyer Referral Service continues to be an important part of our service to the public and to the members of the Bar. By the mid-70's, the leadership realized that the increased membership and the issues confronting the members in the daily practice of law needed attention and planning.
For two-thirds of its long history, the Association possessed few of the trappings of physical permanence. There was no central location or system for keeping Bar Association records from the days of the founding fathers until the mid-60's. All work for the Association was conducted by the lawyers in their own offices with the help of their staff, which generally consisted only of a secretary. At the end of the president's term, all records relating to the business of the Association were retained in the office of the outgoing president. However, it became easier to follow the evolution of the Association due to central record keeping when the Bar Headquarters was established in 1975.
This Association has been blessed with a constant stream of outstanding presidents and volunteer members, who have given of their time, energy and intellect. Each president kept building upon each preceding year. It is indeed a great pleasure to review for future generations the following progression of leadership and set forth for posterity the accomplishments of so many outstanding individuals.
1974-75 James T. Wharton was the "President of the Decade," who must have had very long Executive Committee meetings, as plans emerged to establish an Association office with part-time staff. It has been said that our Bar Association is designed as a democracy and we make the mistake of trying to run the Association the way it is organized. Jim Wharton must have reached sainthood during his administration because we have as many opinions on how projects should be accomplished as we have members. However, our democracy, even with its delays and weaknesses, has turned out to be our strength in the long run. Jim's term of office proved the argument that it was no longer possible to manage the Association out of the president's law office. Future presidents who were solo practitioners would reaffirm this again and again.
1975-1976 Albert D. Brault could be labeled the "Father of the Modern Bar Association." What a whirlwind of energy, ideas and enthusiasm he exhibited. He loved the law and was greatly concerned that his brothers and sisters in the Bar be heard in Annapolis and that the energy and intellect of the lawyers of the Bar be carried into service in the community. The formal headquarters office of the Bar Association was established at 17 West Jefferson Street in Rockville in rented space from Robert Bullard. At this time a part-time Executive Director, William F. Huffman, was hired along with a part-time secretary, Beverly Mondin-Vander Haar. Shirley Bromberg continued in the Lawyer Referral Service along with a part-time bookkeeper. Al brought the accounting off the yellow legal tablets, redesigned the newsletter, wrote up all office procedures, and supported the real estate section in their fight against the title companies for the unauthorized practice of law. On April 5, 1976 the membership unanimously voted approval of the title suit and an initial $20.00 assessment was set for each present and future member of the Association. This would be a battle that would last for many years. Albert D. Brault was and is a leader in every sense of the word. No one would disagree with this.
1976-1977 Edward B. Layne was a dynamic litigator, who was concerned that Annapolis hear our voices in Montgomery County. Does that sound familiar? Ed was a proponet of pre-paid legal services and appeared before the state legislature to endorse that concept.
1977-78 William M. Canby proceeded to make a few changes in the Associations' Constitution with the expert draftsmanship of Durke G. Thompson. Those few changes turned into a complete redraft of the Association's Constitution and By-Laws, which lasted throughout Bill's presidential year. He had begun to look at buildings in the Rockville area to buy as a permanent home for the Bar. Bill initiated the concept of "Step Ladder of Legal Services." This tiered income level for legal services was designed to afford every citizen in our county the opportunity to receive legal services. This concept still exists today. Bill gave much of himself to the Bar Association and could never quite understand why so many younger members of the Bar failed to realize the real advantage of becoming involved. Bill was a very involved president and his commitment to projects was unwavering.
1978-79 Elizabeth Tennery worked diligently at the end of the previous administration to assure there would be no discussion of the Constitution during her administration. Betty, as she is known, wanted to help lawyers practice law to the best of their ability. She initiated the Lawyer-to-Lawyer Assistance Committee to counsel lawyers with personal problems. At the same time, she established a Permanent Search Committee, chaired by William Canby, J. Michael Conroy and Paul McGuckian to acquire a Bar building. Betty taught her Executive Committee and members of the Bar to laugh with her and at themselves through the creation of the "Bar Revue", which is still being performed at the Rockville Civic Center. During her administration, William F. Huffman entered the full-time practice of law and Beverly Mondin became the acting Executive Director, while finishing her degree in management. Beverly became Executive Director in June, 1979. Management by Objective with a Total Marketing Concept became the way of life at the Association to meet the multitude of deadlines and pave a path into the community for attorney involvement at every opportunity. Betty was an innovative president and she built camaraderie wherever she went. Industrious is a word synonymous with her name. She could work circles around any two, three and maybe four people.
1979-80 Paul Mannes will always be known as a gracious, kind, concerned president, who could get anyone to do anything by simply saying "Would you be so kind as to..." and then give you a deadline that told you he was totally serious. Long Range Planning was carried to new heights and we found it really worked if you did it right. This was the beginning of a ten-year plan with checks and balances along the way. What a wonderful road map for the future. He also incorporated CLE into the luncheon meetings, with brief updates on various areas of the law. Paul brought great dignity to the presidency, as he did to the practice of law.
1980-81 James R. Trimm accomplished unbelievable reorganization on projects and committees and dealt with a multitude of problems during his administration. These problems could have discouraged many presidents. But his diligence, clear thinking and persistent checking the facts gave him a sense of what, when and how action was needed. His fantastic sense of humor made all the work seem lighter than it really was. A Voluntary Arbitration procedure for the Association was designed by John Burke and Durke Thompson and adopted by the Executive Committee. This program was the forerunner of Alternative Dispute Resolution. During this year and with the help of Louis D. Harrington and Jerome Schaefer, the LRS was streamlined to eliminate duplicate procedures, which could afford staff greater time to assist and refer clients on the conference telephone to a lawyer. He believed in asking the membership what they wanted and thought on many occasions through surveys before taking action. Jim was an absolute joy with whom to work and he was liked by everyone.
1981-82 James J. Cromwell. Legal needs for the public was of great concern to the county government, and the Bar Association was turned to for delivering those services. Jim turned back to the government and said, "Not our problem alone,." At this time a partnership was established with the Department of Community Development and that working relationship is still in effect today, as the backbone of the Pro Bono Program. Jim went to the membership and in his charismatic way, encouraged everyone to do their share to help our community and they did. "No problem." This was the beginning of the big push for delivery of legal services to the disadvantaged by the Association. All the while the Permanent Search Committee was looking at every available building for a home for the Bar within walking distance of the Courthouse, as mandated by the membership survey. The first location considered was the old brick house on Jefferson Street known as the Rockville Academy, alma mater of many early Rockville lawyers, including most of our founding fathers. Jim was a fighter andwhen we were threatened in any way, he simply stood his ground and gave the opposition, "An offer they could not refuse." Jim was greatly respected.
1982-83 Charles E. Wilson. During this year the Montgomery County, Maryland, Bar Foundation was established to conduct all the charitable and educational activities for the lawyers of the Bar Association of Montgomery County. It was an entirely separate 501(c)(3) organization and would conduct Continuing Legal Education for the members of the Bar. Its objectives were clear, and, combined with the Bar Association in Long Range Planing, set forth a ten-year plan that would be an update of our revised previous ten-year plan. Mr. Wilson was especially wise in drafting the bylaws of the foundation to foster cooperation and not competition between the Bar Association and Bar Foundation. He left us a magnificent design and working relationship between these two organizations. President Wilson initiated a black-tie dinner honoring Senior Members of the Bar, which was very well received and one of a kind. He also established a special committee on the delivery of CLE which would investigate the delivery of CLE by all organizations and report back to the Executive Committee. Patrick C. Woodward chaired that committee, which was a two year study. Chuck, as he is called by his friends was a diligent president, who never asked anyone to do any job he was not willing to do himself.
1983-84 D. Warren Donohue ran his meetings, his committees and activities like a general running out of time. He was like a juggler and not a plate smashed to the floor because he had delegated responsibility for plate catching. Ideas - plans - deadlines and implementation. Everything was rushing ahead on schedule. Warren fought to get the attorney reimbursement raised for public defender cases. Long Range Planning during this administration reaffirmed the earlier plans and computerization of the headquarters office was made a priority. The Council of Past Presidents was also established at this time to assist all future presidents. December 21, 1983, a settlement was reached in the title suit. Warren was a time manager and always seemed to get what was important done in the time allocated.
1984-85 Hyman Shapiro was one of our many fund raisers in the Association that would make you remark, "How did he/she do that." The initial money had been raised for the purchase of one half undivided interest in the building at 27 West Jefferson Street. But a major campaign still needed to continue and the Foundation needed plain old operating capital until its 15-year plan became a reality. Hy began the Bar Leaders, which was a dedicated group of attorneys who pledged yearly contributionss to the Foundation Operating Fund. He will be remembered for his statement at the initial Bar Leaders Kick Off Dinner, "The practice of law has been 'berry berry good to me,' and I now would like to give something back to the profession to further the practice of law for the future generations." On April 25, 1985, the Bar Association officially took possession of its own building at 27 West Jefferson Street, which was designed and built by attorney Robert Bullard during the blitzkrieg of Rockville urban renewal. At the April 25th celebration, Barney Welsh gave a whimsical "Welsh Blessing" to the attorneys gathered for the ribbon-cutting, "May the Judge rise to greet you; may your friends be always by your side; may your clients speak warmly of you behind your back, as well as to your bank account; and, until we meet again, may the Assignment Commissioner hold you gently in the palm of her hand." Hy also appointed a permanent personnel committee for assistance to the Executive Director, and to set forth consistent policies and procedures for the entire staff. Hy was concerned for people and their welfare. It showed in his eyes and you could hear it in his voice as he always addressed the human-needs side of any issue or project. He was a man who cared for people.
1985-86 Durke G. Thompson entered the presidency like a race horse ready to capture the Triple Crown. He accomplished all seven goals within one year, including: A membership recommitment to Pro Bono for the community, expansion of the Bar Association leadership, use of cable television for programs of the Bar, and the design and implementation of a Voluntary Arbitration procedure, which was the forerunner of Alternative Dispute Resolution. Durke also picked up the banner for a southern division of the U.S. District Court. He wanted to raise standards through CLE in both management of the law practice as well as areas of the law. Durke respected and gave great weight to the opinions of his Executive Committee, but once he saw solid support for a direction, he was quick to move for a motion. A motion to implement was as good as done. He was extremely fair, and never wasted time.
1986-87 Thomas L. Craven gave his support to James L. Thompson, Albert D. Brault and a multitude of Montgomery and Prince George's County attorneys to continue their battle for a Southern Division of the U.S. District Court. Tom continued to carry the banner of Pro Bono service from our attorneys and will be remembered for stating, "All of us should attempt to face up to our Pro Bono obligations, even if it might take us into unfamiliar territory." "Seek assistance from other lawyers in our Association or from our unfamiliar territory." In addition Tom spent much of his time making sure our Association was heard in Annapolis. He was even handed, thoughtful, and always wanted to hear the other side of an issue. He was greatly respected by his colleagues.
1987-88 James L. Thompson was a president of determination and made the commitment, "We will get a Southern Division of the U.S. District Court, if it takes me the rest of my life. We will get a court because time and statistics are on our side." "Our county is growing and that is a fact." Jim also wanted to improve the alternatives to court for our citizens to resolve disputes and in the process improve the certainty of trial dates in the Circuit Court, problems with TBA and conciliation of disputed child custody cases through the masters office. Jim also wanted to put effort into improving the image of lawyers. "We are so busy doing good things, we have no time to tell anyone about them." Jim did conduct a Town meeting for the citizens and initiated a law column. He insisted that the public needs to know what we are doing if we are to have a positive impact upon the negative image of lawyers. Jim outlined goals for every committee and section of the Association with time schedules for reporting back. He is one of those individuals who works faster than most people think. This energy, hard work and intellect coupled with his desire to attend to every detail, made him the type of person you wanted on your side, not against you.
1988-89 Robert H. Metz. He was mild mannered, gracious and possessed a dry humor that caught your attention as few others. He quietly listened to everyone and then charged forward to accomplish the goal. But when he charged, he totally had all the facts and figures down pat to substantiate that charge forward. He seemed to accomplish the impossible every day. Bob was successful in moving our Pro Bono Program into our own headquarters and increasing our grant form Montgomery County and Maryland Legal Services Corporation. He kept our long range plan on schedule and increased our Continuing Legal Education programming to bring quality and cost effective education to our attorneys in our own headquarters. Bob served simultaneously in the community with the same commitment as he did in the Bar Association as President. He was a man of great integrity, empathy, common sense and was liked and admired by everyone with whom he worked. This man makes a difference in lives wherever he goes, although he will shrug his shoulders and blame everything on the Democrats or Republicans, depending if it was a perceived good or evil. Bob is a 22 karat solid gold human being. He never sided with a popular opinion, but did what he knew was right and good for the majority.
1989-90 Harry W. Lerch was a strategic planner and the Association had the benefit of that strategic planning during his year as president. Harry did an in depth membership survey and incorporated that in to a dynamic long range planning retreat. Throughout his administration he also emphasized Professionalism and interpreted that in terms of responsibility, excellence, service and satisfaction. He wanted to add fun to the definition because he did enjoy his year as president and always looked for ways to turn "problems" into "opportunities". No matter how complicated the problem, while people were discussing the issue, he would proceed to scribble the answer in terms of dollars and cents on a 2"x2" note. He paid attention to detail and that was critical during this time of finance, building planning and making ends meet. Harry was a quiet, soft spoken man who loved problems and enjoyed solving them.
1990-91 A. Howard Metro appeared on the scene of the Bar Association several years before he became president as Chairman of the Professionalism Committee. Howard was an altruistic leader moving many projects forward at the same time with great energy, time and dedication. CLE was moved to its highest level of presentation both in quality and quantity with many series-seminars and institutes of learning, e.g. family law, bankruptcy. He began Law School for the Public, which was truly an outreach to the community at large. He initiated the formal Annual Meetings with concurrent workshops and selected exhibitors of services and products. Law Office Management, and member recruitment and retention were also goals of this administration. He felt there was strength through numbers, both at the Legislative and national level. Howard also implemented a policy in the form of a resolution to defend the Judges in "unjust" criticism, which has proven helpful to the Bench and the Bar. Howard loved being president of the Bar, not for the honor it brought him; but for the opportunity to give unselfishly of himself to the Bar, and that he did daily. Softball League - By 1991 the softball league, started in 1988 by Deane Shure had grown to 24 teams with a northern and southern division. Champs: Conroy, Ballman & Dameron and the Adams Street Wonders.
1991-92 Thomas D. Murphy was featured in the press over and over as an example of the "Community Lawyer." The local press was very kind to him and gave him the opportunity to speak out on many issues and voice the views of the Bar and its membership to the public. Tom initiated a Judicial/Professionalism Conference, chaired by Lawrence A. Shulman at Coolfont, West Virginia in which judges and lawyers dealt with the problems in the Administration of Justice. The working relationship of the Bench and Bar was extremely productive in bringing into existence the Differentiated Trial Management system under Judge Paul Weinstein. Tom awarded Administrative Judge John J. Mitchell the First Annual Judicial Award for his efforts during his administration. Tom did much to further the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution to afford the community speedy resolution with certainty of disposition. He implemented the "Alter ego Program" for the Bench and Bar. Tom was a very intuitive president and always listened to everyone on an issue, measured the political impact and then acted. He gathered his facts well, and always.
1992-93 Mark S. Goldstein became president at a critical time in the Association, as so many other presidents seemed to have been elected for particular strengths perceived by the membership. Mark was a master fund-raiser and spearheaded and effort to raise the remaining money needed to complete the purchase of the Bar Center from Schroeder, Ryder and Braden. Mark appointed J. Michael Conroy as Campaign 2000 chairman. He and Michael were able to raise sufficient funds to purchase the second half of the Bar building as the permanent headquarters of the Bar Association. Mark enlisted the creative financial talents of Marcia C. Fidis, who designed a Charitable Remainder Trust for Schroeder, Ryder and Braden, the owners of the second half of the building, which enabled the Bar to buy their building. In 1994, the Centennial Year, the Bar Association owned its own headquarters for future generations of attorneys to enjoy. Mark also laid the groundwork for the Centennial Committee to publish a Centennial History Book and appointed James J. Cromwell as chair of the Centennial Celebration. All of these were gargantuan tasks and President Goldstein tacked them with great zeal and commitment. Future generations will benefit from his biting the bullet to purchase the second half of the building. The rental income from the building will support the building operation and the foundation projects for many years to come. Mark was a businessman and lawyer from the word go! He knew how to get things done, but was impatient with time himself. So much to do - so little time.
1993-94 Patrick C. McKeever was a president who held the reigns of the Bar Association to ensure "inclusion" of all other associations and groups into the programs of the Bar Association. He worked for the Bar Association to publish its Centennial History for posterity. The project was in serious trouble when he appointed Elizabeth Tennery, as Centennial Book Editor along with an Editorial Review Board to publish 100 years of history. Patrick appeared before the legislature on behalf of the Bar Association, to support a bill to have a judgeship on the Court of Appeals designated for Montgomery County. Patrick was a scholar and revitalized the Lawyers Literary Circle, which was very populr.
1994-95 J. Michael Conroy The president for the centennial year set forth his goals for community education through cable television and newspaper law columns to educate the public regarding our many programs. Michael was greatly concerned for lawyer advertising and the practice of law by non-lawyers. He feared that many of our citizens would be hurt or their rights endangered by not having been informed of all their legal rights before action.
1995-96 Robert R. Michael
1996-97 Carole C. Perez
1997-98 John W. Debelius, III
1998-99 Douglas M. Bregman
1999-2000 Rebecca N. Strandberg
2000-01 John P. Kudel
Thomas Anderson, whose legacy was the Bar Association of Montgomery County, would be proud of the accomplishments made by the membership during the past 100 years. Today the Association is acclaimed for its standards, professionalism and programs designed to improve the membership and to the lawyers of today: "Those who shape their community, do so with thoughtful, helpful deed." The good deeds of our leaders have brought this association to the excellence that it enjoys. Each leader gave much, to so many and future generations of leaders would do well to know their Bar History of past strengths and accomplishments. All of those who follow in the footsteps of these leaders are truly in a League of Excellence.
The Circuit Court Since 1805 By Judge Joseph M. Mathias
You didn't have to be a lawyer to be a Circuit Court judge in the early days. But it did help if you were comfortable on a horse, for riding the Circuit.
In 1805 a Constitutional amendment divided Maryland into six judicial districts, two on the eastern shore and four on the western shore. Each district had three judges but only the chief judge was required to be trained in the law. Judges were appointed by the Governor.
An 1851 Constitutional amendment required that judges be elected. Circuit Court judges are still elected, although the judges of the other courts are now appointed for their full terms. In reality a Circuit Court judge often comes to the bench by gubernatorial appointment but is only interim, effective until the next general election that is more than a year later. At that time the appointee must stand for election, which may be contested. Unlike other election contests, candidates for Circuit Court judge may crossfile, entering the primaries of both parties and - if they win both - settling the matter then and there.
In 1867 a Constitutional amendment organized the Circuit Courts as they are today, increasing the number of judicial districts from six to eight. Each circuit was authorized to have one judge except the eighth (Baltimore city) which could have more. Montgomery and Frederick counties comprise the sixth circuit. In those days most of the judges rode their circuits, travelling from courthouse to courthouse. Since then the Legislature has prescribed that every county have at least one resident judge, eliminating the circuit-riding. Only occasionally are Montgomery County judges assigned to sit in Frederick and vice versa.
As the state's population has grown, additional judges have been authorized in all the circuits. When I came on the bench in 1965, I was the sixth resident judge in Montgomery County. There were two in Frederick County. Today the authorized number of judges for Montgomery is fifteen, for Frederick three. Here is another statistic: In the 98 years before I came on the bench there had been only fourteen circuit judges in Montgomery County. By the time I retired, another fourteen judges had come on the bench.
In the history of the Montgomery County Circuit Court, four of its members have the distinction of being elevated to the Court of Appeals: Irma Raker, John F. McAuliffe, Irving A. Levine, and Stedman Prescott, who rose to be Chief Judge of that court. They reflect the quality of the Montgomery Bar.
Practicing Half A Century Back By Robert E. Bullard, Esquire
Half a century ago Montgomery County lawyers existed as three clannish islands. It was said that the Silver Spring lawyers had the work, the Bethesda lawyers the money, and the Rockville lawyers the brains. Most offices were small one-man operations; the few firms were family affairs-father and son, brothers, husband and wife. Twenty-seven of them, as shown by the pennant in the courtroom, had returned from wartime service to their practice, most from the Navy. These were now joined by other returning veterans who had the benefits of the GI Bill and Ginsburg and Ginsburg's Bar Review course.
There had been a 6th Circuit rule requiring out-of -county lawyers to have local counsel, and though struck down in 1949, it was still observed by the prudent practitioner. After five years in the Army and four years in school, like many others, I had no idea of how to begin a practice. Before taking the Bar, I abstracted for Conroy & Williams in Upper Marlboro for $120 a month and thought myself lucky. After a couple of quiet months Ed Nylen sent me to the beehive of Rockville. Barnard T. Welsh and his father, F. Barnard, practice from three rooms in the Delly Boulding, which was at the present west entrance to the Judicial Center. Barney had taught me evidence and criminal law in school and trusted me with a few criminal and title matters, a kindness I can never forget.
I found a sumptuous suite available in Doctor Kapiloff's Brosius Building (across from Murphy's 5 & 10) for $40 a month. My secretary was $40 a week. Postage, three cents since 1933, did not go up to four until 1958. The worst expense in time and money was the telephone, at about $10 a month. With a manual typewriter and no way of making copies except by carbon paper, one soon learned the economics of brevity. Moreover, recording costs were computed on the number of words in an instrument. I seldom found it necessary to use more than one page for anything and got may declarations and bill of complaint for divorce, as well as deeds and most wills, on one page. A mortgage took two and sometimes three.
My first big client was a Western Auto store that believed in collecting all debts. Nearly all my suits were for under $100 and many for less than $10. Filing costs in the Trial Magistrate's Court were $2.35. That court's civil jurisdiction was $300. The magistrates were part-time and in most counties non-lawyers. In Rockville, he sat one morning a week, sometimes on a busy day running into the afternoon. You could expect your case to come up within two weeks of service. This court sat in the 1891 Red Brick Courthouse which also held the County Surveyor, County Agent, and old Orphans' Court records.
The 1931 Courthouse had one courtroom, which was dark and empty most of the time. Above it was the jail. Clayton K. Watkins, clerk since 1931, occupied the main floor with the land and judgment records. Clayton sat in on all trials. A tobacco-chewer, he kept a brass spitoon at his feet. He knew all of the charges for Harris' Modern Entries (1931 Edition) and when he swore the jury, they knew they were sworn. A law case was set for trial at the call of the docket when all attorneys would assemble in the courtroom at the beginning of the term. You could expect your case to come up within four months.
Until mid 1948, all recording was by typing verbatim copies of the original instrument. Thirty girls at desks with machines and holding racks, all typing or audibly comparing and proof-reading stacks of paper, could be heard out on the street. Land transactions recording was six months behind when a multilith was installed across the hall with Bob Hughes running it. With the County Treasurer and Assessment offices on the lower level, one could process and record a deed in five minutes. Upstairs, you could record, file suits in Law and Equity, and run the loose papers (those recorded but not indexed), and mooch a pen full of ink without moving your feet. At the end of the month we would watch for a little pink pile to appear on Margaret Scherrer's desk. They were appearance fee checks representing the $10 for each equity and $5 for each lawsuit you had filed and were part of the filing costs. Sometimes that was all you got out of the case.
The Bar Association had a minimum fee schedule. It was unethical to charge less than the prescribed minimum. Bud Noyes, later the Magistrate and People's Court Judge for juvenile cases, used to say that when asked what a divorce would cost, he would lean back, make a tent with his fingers and say, "That will cost you $125," and if his prospective client didn't gasp, he would add, "if it's not constested." Equity cases, which included divorces, were submitted on transcribed testimony taken before a master. A lengthy transcript invited delay. The sheer volume of material to read in chambers was increasing, but nothing like the avalanche now dumped on judges, inspired by the word-processing machines now employed.
It was not until 1959 that I was dragged into open court in a contested divorce case by Leonard Karky. In the early 50's thought, a one-day divorce was possible - if it was not contested. You and your opposing counsel filed your bill and answer, walked across the street to Kenneth Lyddane, the Examiner in Chancery, and took testimony, which he would transcribe and file by noon. The file, with waiver of the ten day rule and Final Decree, then went to a chair (the equivalent of my "In, Out, Hold, Work, and File" basket) in Judge Woodward's chambers. After a couple of hours, you could pick up the file and a Miscellaneous Petition for waiver of the 48-hour rule. Applicants would then have to satisfy Geneva Mullican (visually) that they were racially within the statute, and were told, "You gotta be married in Montgomery County by a minister." Geneva also swore in notaries, who were required to declare their belief "in the existence of God." Torcaso, a Wheaton druggist, who said he didn't and was refused his commission, brought mandamus against Clayton. He lost in the Circuit Court and Court of Appeals, Judge Henderson concluding that the right to a commission did "not encompass the ungodly." It did, too, said the Supreme Court and ordered the mandamus issue.
In 1953, Robert W. Beall was President of the Bar Association and I was elected Secretary, succeeding Edward L. Foster. Ted's record didn't include a roster, so I compiled one. It had 153 names, addresses and telephone numbers and was mailed to all members. Additionally, with the increasing activity, I started the Bulletin, now called the Newsletter. It was one page, done on a borrowed mimeograph for less than $12 for the year. Lawrence A. Widmayer, Jr. succeeded me and had the Bulletin printed by Bethesda Business Service. Judge Woodward retired in 1955. I painted his portrait, which the Association presented to him at his retirement party, and did the same when Judge Prescott retired from the Court of Appeals.
It became obvious that the Courthouse was running out of space. Land records alone were filling two books a week. I talked Clayton Watkins into adopting the half-size record books used in Marlboro and compiled data to get the Bar Association moving. Appointed Chairman of the "Court House Addition Committee," I easily proved our case to all except those responsible for the funding, ruffling every feather in the newly completed County Building. Succeeding me as Chairman, Bill Canby, with the patience and sagacity I lacked, managed the county Manager and Council with such skill that in no time plans for a three floor west end expansion were underway. For the Fourth of July, 1956, before any construction began, a reviewing stand was erected on this site. A local legal secretary was the featured singer and selected "Your Land and My Land" but only had the piano accompaniment. Charlie Irelan, then County Attorney and running for judge, had obtained the Metropolitan Police Band for the occasion. I took the score home and over the weekend wrote the arrangements for the 28 piece band. Harold C. Smith was master of Ceremonies. Joe Mathias and I then commanded, respectively, the Naval and Land forces of Montgomery County and furnished Naval Reserve and National Guard contingents for the Parade.
In 1957 Ted Foster, as Chairman of the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, delivered a thorough analysis of the activities of title companies doing business in the county, concluding they were engaged in the unlawful practice of law. Those operated by county lawyers, and Ted counted 27, were told to fold up. All did, but the title insurance companies, who had most of the business and were situated in Washington, D. C., continued operation as before. The Bar Association determined to enjoin them and filed suit. After being rebuffed by the Court of Appeals, holding that the Association was without authority to enjoin criminal activity, the Legislature amended Article 10 to provide it. Then began the Title Company Case, in which the litigants and most of the issues gradually succumbed to exhaustion.
By the end of the decade, law practice was decidedly more complex. The Courthouse Addition was already full, Dave Betts had built an elegant office building on West Jefferson Street, and plans for urban renewal threatened everything east of the Courthouse. I bought a lot opposite Dave's "Jefferson Barracks" and designed and built 27 West Jefferson Street (so I could look down on Dave). The Bar Association now occupies that building.
The law is restated about every 30 years. How often do you cite a case from before 1960? Since 1950 there are not only new fields of law, but much of what was prescribed is now prohibited. The 40 years since 1950 have brought unimagined changes, as revolutionary and profound as three other such periods (1775 to 1815, 1860 to 1900, and 1905 to 1945), including two major and many minor wars. You can be sure only that the law of today will not be the law of tomorrow.
The author, who was paralyzed when his auto was struck by a drunk driver in 1988, painstakingly typed this article with a single working finger. Editor.
Bethesda Before the Boom By E. Austin Carlin, Past President
There once was a sleepy little town in southern Montgomery County inhabited mainly by merchants engaged in small business, teachers, and other professionals of modest wealth--and they called it "Bethesda."
In those early post-war days, everything in Montgomery County centered around the County seat of Rockville, near the Courthouse. Silver Spring was just beginning to be recognized because developer Sam Eig had the foresight to pursue commercial development. The legal profession recognized the opportunities that followed his endeavors, and some lawyers migrated from Rockville to Silver Spring and even a few to that almost forgotten Bethesda area.
Prior to the war, my office was with the Rockville offices of J. Guy Neel, father-in-law of Leonard Kardy, former State's Attorney, across the street from the old Courthouse. F. Archie Meatyard, who later became my law partner, was located in the office of Jim Pugh over the Rockville firehouse. Upon my return from service I was located in the Kelley Building with Andy Starratt, now deceased. There were no commercial buildings of any consequence in Bethesda prior to 1950, when Roger Eisinger, Sr. constructed the Guild Building, which became the location for some of the pioneer lawyers. To the best of my recollection Clarence Keiser was the only active practitioner in Bethesda prior to the war. His office was in a residence on Watkins Avenue (now East-West Highway) across from where the Hot Shoppe is now located.
Bob Beall, Basil Carr, Ellis Jones, John Reeves, Archie Meatyard, and I all had offices in the Guild Building. It was probably the gestation site of the charter form of government in Montgomery County. Plummer Srearin, a G.W. law student at the time, served as Executive Secretary to the Charter Movement Group and was headquartered in the Guild Building. That same Plummer Shearin is now a retired Circuit Court Judge, living in Florida.
Next to the Guild Building was a sheet metal shop-not a very attractive place. The second floor became the office of the "M and M" Boys, Walter Moorman and his partner Joe Mathias. They could be said to be a study in contrast, but both of these gentlemen ended up on the Circuit Court.
Bethesda, believe it or not, had very few commercial buildings of any size until the Perpetual Building was constructed at the corner of Wisconsin and Montgomery avenues. This was in 1955. Many early lawyers were located in this building. The characters in the Perpetual Building all had their own flairs and styles. The leader without a doubt was Bob Beall. There was only one of his kind at the Bar. He was a great toastmaster, a great entertainer, a man who spoke his mind, never bending his views on any question--usually taking the minority view. He was Examiner in Chancery, whose duty was to evaluate the testimony in equity cases-mostly uncontested divorces. Jim Christopher maintained his office in the Perpetual Building and was also a Trial Magistrate. Jim McAuliffe had his office there when Assistant State's Attorney; this was when Assistant State's Attorney could also have a private practice. John McInerney and his group had their offices in the Perpetual Building. Included in this group was a very young man named Richard Latham. His is now retired from our Circuit Court. Some of his training was as a clerk for Walter Moorman, who was serving as a Trial Magistrate at the time. As I recall, Ed Layne and Paul McCormick were associates. John was one of the best trial lawyers of his day, a great person outside the Court, but when the trial started, he was a tenacious and vicious opponent. He would not even remember your name once the trial began. John Keating, on of our Court Auditors, also maintained offices in Perpetual.
Recalling these Perpetual Building tenants, we cannot forget the "old gray fox," namely Warren Browning, a man of exceptional legal talent. Most who read this will not remember, nor probably ever knew, that many years ago we had a common law pleading. In those days, with every declaration in contract we would file what was known as the common counts.
The common counts, according to Poe, Practice and Pleading, "are very general in their terms and do not of themselves apprise the defendant of the details of the plaintiff's claim."
In other words, they were a catch-all for actions of assumption. They were 11 in number; for example, for "goods bargained and sold" and "for work and labor." Warren was trying a case based on a specific contract, and he was obviously having a problem with proof. In mid-stream he changed his whole theory of the case to the "quantum merit" theory. The young lawyer in defense was caught completely by surprise, when Warren explained to the Court that all that would have been necessary to prevent this great surprise was to have demanded a bill of particulars. The fox was at work and his chicken-coop was the courtroom. I was never caught in that trap again after that experience.
After the success of the Perpetual building the first Air Right Building was constructed over the B&O right-of-way on Wisconsin Avenue (1963). This was under the direction of the Eisinger family. This was a new concept in commercial construction in Montgomery County which had been used in New Yourk for a long time, mainly the use of air rights for development. A rent roll chart of the Air Rights Building in 1967 lists Brockett Muir, Potomac Title Company, King & Nordlinger, Norman Brown, DeOrsey and Gleason among the legal tenants. The annual rent at that time was less than $5 per square foot.
In back of the Perpetual Building, Archie Meatyard, Jr. and I constructed the Title Building. Archie, without a doubt, was one of the most outstanding individuals I have known, truly a fair and honest man. If he had a fault it would be that almost every case to him was "pro bono". Archie and I had what we consider an alumni of lawyers who had been associated with us from time to time. These included Jim Hollis, Charley Foster, Leonard Murphy, Bill Paton, J. Willard Nalls, and Henry Weil. Other lawyers who used the Title Building on their letterhead were Dutch Schroeder, Don Ryder, Tom Carolan, and Al Burka.
To not mention my faithful secretary, when I was fortunate enough to be Bar President in 1961, would be a mistake. Bruce Goldberg was a tremendous support to me in those tumultuous days. He was always with me, day or night. We won some and lost some, but the big one got away.
We expended much of our energy that year trying to get the legislature to pass a law prohibiting lawyers with their offices in the District of Columbia, where their main practice was concentrated, from practicing in Montgomery County without a bona fide office in Maryland. At the time, this was a very serious matter. Once, we worked all night in Annapolis in a house rented by the Montgomery County Delegation. At 3 a.m., Lou Goldstein dropped by with a State Trooper. We were in need of books from the Court of Appeals library, and there was a Trooper dispatched with one of us to get the material. Senator Northrop and Delegates Al Barbee and Charles Woodward, Jr., were our main legislative support for the bill. Also very active were Vince Gingerich, Ted Foster, Jim Miller, Sr., Jim Christopher, George Ballman, Steadman Prescott, Jr., and of course the work-horse, Bruce. We made the good fight but lost on a very close vote when Baltimore City decided not to give their support.
Henry Lerch, father of Harry Lerch, came to town about 1955. Bob Pillotte and Wilton Wallace, who were together at the time, had offices in the Hiser Theater Building, then the Suburban Trust and Perpetual Buildings, and finally the Ford Building. This highly respected Republican firm, although much larger today, still has a Bethesda base. Also, I vaguely remember the firm of Rowan and See, with offices at the Bank if Bethesda Building. The firm started out with Bill Rowan's dad and Oscar See, a former Trial Magistrate.
Mark Goldstein, who was Bar President when I wrote this, must have some recognition, but he really does not qualify from an age standpoint. However, a year as President ages anyone, and he is my designate to write this column 25 years form now. So he should start taking notes.
Back in the 50's when all phone numbers began with Poplar, Rockville had a main street called Montgomery Avenue, running east and west in front of the old Red Brick Courthouse and past the 1930's courthouse. There the trolley line ended, and the town clock stood; that is, until a fireman ran the clock down in hot pursuit of a fire.
Montgomery Avenue bisected Perry Street (now Maryland Avenue), where many of the lawyers' running with the horses, could be found in their offices in the Oxley Building. Next door was the single-story frame Kelley Building, which in addition to Tom Kelley's office housed Summer Wood, Leo Bender, F.B. Welsh, and Barney Welsh. After Tom added a second story, Alger Barbee, Andy Starratt, Harper Smith, Tommy Anderson, Basil Carr, Austin Carlin, Dave Cahoon, John Bowman, and Hodge Smith moved in. Among this talented group, Alger stood out as a particularly gifted trial lawyer.
The siren from the Fire Department next door rang at noon. All activity ceased in the courtroom until the siren stopped wailing. As if on cue, the lawyers in the Kelley Building, affectionately known as the Marching and Chowder Boys, assembled in the hallway with the siren's first wail. They had three choices for lunch: the counter at Peoples Drug Store, Hash Brothers located at an alley several doors away, or Marianne's Kitchen a block away. It was worth the walk and the wait to heat her lobster newberg sandwiches, English trifle and other delectable fare. But there was no delay in paying you bill. You left your money on the table near the door, and made your own change. She didn't believe in cash registers. Hash Brothers has moved twice since then. It has even changed its name to the Apollo, but the menu is the same, as well as some of the faces. Peoples has also moved and no longer has a counter where lawyers can gather.
Barney Welsh never forgot the expensive lunch he had one day at Mariannes's. He had tried a jury case before the first Judge Woodward. As the jurors filed out to deliberate, Barney went to lunch. Midway through his newburg sandwich, the sheriff appeared and said that Judge Woodward had sent him to escort Barney back to the courtroom. The jury had returned 25 minutes before Barney arrived in the custody of the sheriff. The judge proceeded to fine Barney $25, which was a dollar for each minute he was late. Barney protested. He said he thought he had been excused when the jury left the courtroom. The judge replied: "Everyone was excused except you. Pay the $25." Barney didn't have $25.00. Fortunately Bob Romero did.
Clitus Bourdeaux, Frank Tyler, Archie Meatyard and Bob Peter had their offices in the Fire House, as did Jim Pugh. He and F.B. Welsh represented Homer Hendricks, a lawyer charged with murder of his wife, who claimed self-defense even though the pistol he used had to be cocked after he fired each of four shots. They got him off with manslaughter.
The Fire House was flanked by the Kelley Building and a tiny bank building. During the late 1950's both buildings were destroyed by fire. The cause of the fires and the delay in responding remain a mystery. Dave Betts took a lot of ribbing about the Kelley Building fire, because his Jefferson Building had just been completed, and he had a lot of vacancies.
An old residence a few steps from the other side of the Fire House had been converted into offices. There Jim Christopher, and Charlie and Bill Prettyman, a father and son team, had their offices. William Prettyman was a silver haired, kind and gentle gentleman of the law. He was president of our Association for several years, beginning in 1927. Dave Betts, president of the local and state Bar Associations, a part-time singer and legend in his own time, also began his real estate practice in that old converted home.
Just around the corner next to the Maryland National Bank, which was torn down by the urban renewalites, were the offices of Bob Bullard. You had to climb a long flight of stairs to get to his office, but it was worth the climb, because no matter how complex the title problem, Bob seemed able to resolve it. Directly across the street could be found the charming offices of Bill and Albert Bouic. It was a little three room brick building sandwiched between a large Woolworth's Five and Dime and a small retail store. If you stuck your head in the door you were immediately invited inside for a chat. I suspect the Bouics opened the original store-front, walk-in law office in the county. If you have the opportunity to read Albert Bouic's book about the early practice of law in Rockville you are in for a treat.
If you turned west on Montgomery Avenue where the monument to the Confederate Soldier stood in a little triangle of grass you would find yourself in the old Viett Building where the offices of Harold Smith and his father were located. He was a Trial Magistrate for a time, with a long and distinguished career in the law. During the 1940's he was the attorney in the high profile case where the husband was charged with murdering and dismembering his wife and hiding the parts. Kenny Lyddane also had an office there. He was a huge man, with hands the size of hams, who never ceased to amaze everyone with his dexterity in writing Pittman Shorthand while taking testimony as a Master in divorce cases.
A little farther along the street, past the A&P Grocery store, the new Professional Building had been erected. Charlie Woodward, who was on the district Court for many years, began his practice in that building. There were other lawyers in that two-story building. Perhaps even Bowie Waters had his office there. No one is certain. He was a Court Auditor and his office was always stacked with files and papers several feet high. If you entered his office and spoke loudly his head might pop up from somewhere beneath the files.
Sometime later a house between the Viett Building and the Professional Building was converted into offices. Vick Crawford, Stu McInerny, Cal Sander, Bill Dinphy and Irving Abb hung their shingles out to dry at that location. What a cast of characters, and what stories that old house could tell if it too had not been torn down by the progress of urban renewal. The legendary Irving Abb happened to be in the courthouse when Judge Lawlor (later Shook) asked him to represent a defendant. For some reason, the jury was already in the box. Irv looked the 12 squarely in the eye and said, "Seeing none of my wives and none of my creditors, swear the jury."
If you continued up main street in a westerly direction you would arrive at the Farmers Banking and Trust, which later became First National Bank. This is one of the few buildings in beautiful downtown Rockville that survived the urban renewal wrecking ball. Tom Walker and his partner, as well as Bob Myers, who was later joined by Clyde Henning, opened their offices above the bank.
Tom and I had an interesting case. A brother sued his sister in an effort to have a deed from their mother to his sister set aside on the basis of her incompetence. The sister brought in a Notary Public, who testified he wrote the mother's will leaving everything to the daughter, and that he had handled all of the mother's other legal papers, including the signing of the deed. When asked about her competency, he said there was one time when she complained about Indians sitting on her fence, but other than that she seemed as competent as he was. The mother then took the witness stand. Judge Shure, president of our Association from 1954-55 and then a member of the Circuit Court bench, looked her squarely in the eye and said, "Do you know who I am?" With a large smile she replied, "Of course. You are the nice man in the bank who cashes my Social Security checks."
If we backtrack east on Montgomery Avenue and turn right on Monroe we will find the old Fritz Spiedel house, which was filled with antiques, many of which spewed out on the lawn. The original offices of Lee and Jim Miller, a husband and wife team, may have been in the Fire House, but they moved to Monroe Street after the old house was converted to offices. They were then joined by Jim, Jr., who became a Federal Judge until he recently returned to his former life as a lawyer.
In the "olden" days the Circuit Court operated by word of mouth. Once a month Mr. Poole (no one knew his first name) would stick his head in the doorway of all of the offices of the Rockville lawyers and announce that the call of the criminal docket was set for 10 a.m., and that they were required to be there. Everyone appeared in Court Room #1, and remained until all criminal cases were assigned. This was before the Public Defender System. Each lawyer was paid the grand sum of $50 for most cases, and $100 for more serious one.
In those days lawyers were permitted to check out files from the courthouse, as well as law books from the library. We felt proud to be officers of the court, who could be trusted not to remove or alter any pleadings from a file, nor deface or steal a law book. Before Xerox caused the paper explosion in the legal field, it was not unusual to check out the file in a complex case and keep it in your office while you prepared for trial. Clayton Watkins, the Clerk of the Court, listed your name on a card file, which was inserted in the box in place of the file. This procedure usually took a little time, because you had to wait while Clayton rubbed his chin several times and spit tobacco juice into a nearby spittoon. If you kept a file or law book for too long a period, rest assured that Mr. Poole would be there to retrieve it.
The jail was located above the Circuit Court, which now houses the District Court. A short walk up the stairs and you were in jail. A short walk downstairs and the defendants were in court. Mr. Young ran this emporium. He was the jailer, cook, and housekeeper. Appointments were not necessary. If you needed to see your client he let you in. He knew all the lawyers by name.
Remember when we had live shorthand court reporters who would read back a part of the record? Claude Hahn, a most distinguished gentleman, would sit through hours of testimony with a blank and distant look on his face. However, when asked to read back part of the record, he would rise to the level of Clarence Darrow. Iona Slack was different. During the trial she grimaced, shook her head, and often threw her pencil down in disgust. When asked to read back part of the record, she often refused, claiming lawyers talked too long, to fast, and said very little. Was she right or wrong?
The Legal Landscape of Old Silver Spring By Francis "Penny" Shaffer, Esq.
I was lucky enough to take my legal apprenticeship with Emma Waldrop, who had the highest ethical and professional standards of anyone I have ever known. She became a legend by studying law as secretary to Silver Spring attorney Joseph Cissel and never attending law school, yet scoring highest in the Maryland Bar exam.
Our office at the time was in what is now the District Court Building for Silver Spring, and beneath it was the Bank of Silver Spring. Robert Wallace also was in that building. Across the street, the Scrimgeour Building held the law offices of Charles Sanger and Kathryn Lawlor (later Shook) who became a Circuit Court Judge. J. Lloyd Niles also practiced there.
Across Colesville Road behind the then Call Carl station was the little red brick building where Trial Magistrates sat. Behind it stood a house that held the office of Don Staley, Stedman Prescott, Morgan Tenny, and I believe George Ballman. Behind them, Howard Larcombe operated a law office specializing in real estate.
The Suburban Bank (now Nation's Bank) stood at Georgia and Bonifant, and on the top floor was the office of Duckett, Gill, and Orem. James Gill and Robert Christie shared that office for some time, and I was associated with the firm for ten years. A few buildings to the east, Joseph Cissel practiced above the Silver Spring Building and Supply Building.
Farther to the east, beyond the Georgia overpass, you would find the offices of Gordon and Cohen. Sam Gordon became a substitute Peoples Court Judge and Lou Cohen a Domestic Relations Master. In that firm too was my former partner, Ed Collier, now a District Court Judge.
Across Georgia on Thayer were Ted Foster and, I believe, Bob Bourbon, Kelly Litteral, and Harold crier. They later moved to Georgia and Colesville and then to the World Building, which still stands. On Bonifant Street was the office of William Wheeler, with whom many Montgomery lawyers were associated, including William Brannan, John Newman, and Stan Nadonley. The firm now is known as Wheeler and Korpeck and is located in the Lee Building at Colesville and Georgia.
Between Bonifant Street and Wayne Avenue, the Neal Building held the office of Guy Neal and his son-in-law Leonard Kardy, who later became State's Attorney for Montgomery County. He and Bill Brannan later formed a firm located in Montgomery Hills. Robert Bains also had an office on Wayne.
The Eig Building, an early high-rise on Colesville Road, held the offices of Bradshaw, Shearin, Redding, and Thomas, and also the Miller boys, Ralph, Jim, and later Bill Miller and Bob Romero. Ralph and Bill became Montgomery County Circuit Court Judges. Greg Everngam also had an office in the Eig Building. The Bradshaw and Thomas firm now is located at 8720 Georgia, where Fannie Yeatman and Neil Johnson are associated. Einar Christensen, who became a People's Court Judge, had offices in Silver Spring, as did Paul Taggart, Leo Koepfle, and Fendall Coughlan, who also became People's Court Judge.
To the east of Silver Spring, Takoma Park held another small colony of lawyers. This group included Vince Gingerich, Ralph Shure, who became a Circuit Court Judge, Alger McFall, and Alfred Noyes, who became Judge of the Juvenile Court.
The Good Old Days in Takoma Park By Judge Ralph G. Shure
I passed the Maryland Bar in 1936 but could not practice in Montgomery County until I signed Clayton Watkins' "Test Book." I was No. 63. I had thought I was the oldest living lawyer of that era until I talked to Alfred "Bud" Noyes and learned that he precedes me by three years. He was a Juvenile Court Judge from 1946 to 1970. He was a fine, well-respected Juvenile judge who helped straighten out many young members or our community. The Alfred D. Noyes Children's Center was established in his honor. He still lives in Barnesville.
While Clayton was the Clerk of Court, his assistant, Margaret Scherrer, was his excellent right arm. If you needed help with a pleading, you would ask her. She would pull out and old file and give you the help you needed form and actual case. I grew up in Takoma Park, and my office was in the Citizens Bank Building. There were two other lawyers in town, Donald Lamond and Milward Taft. Vivian and Joe Simpson also lived in Takoma Park, but chose the county seat for their offices. Dough Bradshaw and Vince Gingerich opened offices in our town a few years later.
When I started to practice, I had many helpful friends, but my greatest recollections are about Barney Welsh (the father) and Joe Cissel. If you had a problem, Barney's door was always open, and he would take time to advise your. Barney, a fine trial lawyer, usually teamed up with Tom Dawson in court. Barney would sometimes invoke the ire of Judge Woodward, and then Tom Dawson would stand up and apologize for his co-counsel. They knew how far they could go, and it worked well! Little has been said about Rockville's most famous lawyer, Stedman Prescott, affectionately called "Nippie". When I came to the Bar, he was a State Senator. In 1940, He became the second Circuit Court judge. In 1956 he was appointed to the Court of Appeals, and he later became Chief Judge there.
There were originally eight Court of Appeals judges, and the Chief Judge of each circuit was that Circuit's appeal judge. In 1936, our circuit had Judge Woodward, Judge Willard, and Hammond Urner, who was the Chief Judge of the Circuit, and therefore an Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals. Mr. Poole was the Court Bailiff at that time. There were two terms of court and the term started on the first Monday of April and October. At ten o'clock the courthouse bell would ring and Mr. Poole would go to the courthouse steps and announce, "Oyez, oyez", that the term had commenced. All lawyers having pending cases, civil or criminal, were required to be there. The Clerk would go through the docket, and Judge Woodward would inquire, and dates were set for trial.
Charlie Jones, a Rockville attorney, comes to mind. He had no filing cabinets but a large stand of cubicles, and each case, properly folded, was placed there. Much of his work was title searching and settlement. Leo Bender was another old timer and a very conscientious lawyer who used to say that whether a case was for $10 or $100,000 it was equally important to that litigant. He argued just as hard regardless of the amount and whether he had been paid or not. Those were the good old days!
The Way It Was By Elizabeth Tennery, Past President
As in a medieval monastery, in the early days of the Montgomery Bar everything filed in the courts - wills, deeds, pleadings, and other documents - was handwritten in beautiful script. A deed, for example, would have to be hand-copied by the clerks for the land records before the original hand-copy could be recorded and returned to the property owner.
Filing papers was a ritual. Every paper filed in the courthouse had to be stapled to a blue backing-sheet. The legal-size paper was folded over twice, then tied together with pink cotton string, ending with a bow. As papers were taken form or added to the case, the pink cotton string was tied and retied. Now all papers are hole-punched and placed in an individual hard-back file folder. Gone are the pink ribbons and loose papers, and the spittoons set conveniently about the room.
Typewriters and carbon paper brought a revolution. With these the courthouse personnel could fairly quickly rattle off copies of incoming documents. Women who typed at least 18 pages of land records a day earned a starting pay of $100 a month. Another revolution came with microfilm, computers, faxes, high-speed copiers, and laser printers, so now the practice of law leaves little time to think between deadlines for filing documents.
Early courtroom reporters used Pittman and Gregg shorthand to record the proceedings in the courtroom. This permitted questions to be read back to the witness. Shorthand was replaced by stenotype machines. In recent years the courtroom reporter has been replaced by the machine. No longer can an attorney ask that a question be read back.
Similar change marks the way notices go out from the court. In the early days the lawyers occupied offices around the courthouse, and notice from the court passed by word of mouth, almost like the towncrier. Even some court business was conducted in this manner. Today notices are spit out by the computer for delivery to attorneys by mail
And take the law library. In days of the 1930's courthouse the library, so cherished by the founders, resided upstairs next to the jail. Not the best environment, but once a judge granted you the privilege of using it, you could remove books and magazines and even documents. Today our library at the Circuit Court is well stocked, but constrained by high security needs: Walk out now with a book or even a magazine, and an alarm beeper sounds. In a sense this might not be too consequential, because books and even the library are giving ground to computers that can instantaneously bring up the cases and the statutes - quick justice indeed.
The change in Circuit Court Rules sums it all up. The Rules of June 7, 1894 - the year of our founding - consisted of 33 small pages. Today those rules fill two very thick volumes.
In the year 1944 when the Montgomery County Bar Associaiton was fifty years old, it was, by today's standards, a small organization, and a man's world. There were about fifty members, of whom only two were women. Those two were true pioneers in the law, and they deserve special mention. They were Vivian V. Simpson and Emma Waldrop.
Vivian and Emma were almost the same age, both born in the very early years of this century, when the notion of women becoming lawyers had only just begun to gain public acceptance. In fact, until 1902, it was not lawful in Maryland for a woman to practice law. That year the General Assembly of Maryland, prodded by the Court of Appeals' decision In re Maddox, changed the law which had barred women from practicing law. The new statuatory language read:
Women shall be admitted to practice law in this State upon the same terms, conditions, and requirements and to the same extent as provided...with reference to men. No discrimination shall be made on account of race, creed, complexion, or previous condition of servitude.
A graduate of the George Washington University Law School, Vivian began a practoce in Montgomery County in 1927 that continued until failing health compelled her to retire in 1980. For most of her career she was in partnership with her brother, Joseph B. Simpson. The Rockville firm of Simpson and Simpson was preeminent in the area.
During her long professional career, Vivian achieved a number of "firsts". In 1938, she became the first woman attorney for the Board of County Commissioners, predecessor of the County Council; in 1940, the first woman member of the State Industrial Accident Commission,now called the Workers' Compensation Commission; in 1949, the first woman Secretary of State of Maryland; and also in 1949, the first woman president of the Montgomery County Bar Association. Vivian died in 1987 at the age of 84.
The female membership of the Montgomery County Bar Association doubled in 1940 with the admission of Emma Waldrop. Emma's admission evoked a burst of publicity, for she scored highest on the Maryland Bar Examination and never attended law school; she had learned the law in the office of Silver Spring attorney Joe Cissel, where she was his secretary. Emma was active in the County Bar Association and had a successful practice in Silver Spring for many years. For a while, during World War II, she served as a substitute Trial Magistrate. She died in 1992 in her home state of North Carolina at the age of 88.
In 1946, the County Bar Association extended membership to a third woman practitioner. Lee Miller and her husband, Jim, founded in that year the firm of Miller & Miller, which later became and remains Miller, Miller, & Canby. Jim's son by the same name, who is a former Judge of the Federal District Court of Maryland, is still associated with that firm, whose office has always been in Rockville.
In the post-World War II years, the name of one woman, who came East from California, stands out. She was Kathryn J. Lawlor, and she was a do-er. In 1950, she was elected to the County Council in a Republican sweep that ousted most Democratic office-holders from top to bottom. She resigned in 1953 to accept an appointment to the House of Delegates to fill a vacancy there. Then, in 1955, Governor McKeldin appointed her to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. She was the first woman in the history of Maryland to become a Circuit Court Judge. She successfully stood for election in 1966 and served until her retirement in 1971. During her tenure, she was widowed and remarried twice. In the annals of the court she is known by the names of Lawlor, Shook, and DuFour.
The 1960's saw a notable increase in the female membership of the Bar Association. Among those who rose to prominence were Rita Davidson, Rosalyn Bell, Beverly Groner, Elizabeth Tennery, Louise Terzian, Kathryn Digges (now Williams), and Elizabeth Allen.
Rita Davidson, in the span of a few years, earned the double distinction of becoming the first woman judge of the Court of Special Appeals (1972) and of the Court of Appeals (1979). Judge Davidson's judicial career was terminated by her untimely death in 1984.
Rosalyn Bell, in 1978, became the first woman to serve on the Montgomery County District Court, and in 1980, became only the second woman to be named to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. She was elevated to the Court of Special Appeals in 1983, and retired in 1993. Before coming to Montgomery County, Judge Bell had practiced law in the District of Columbia.
Beverly Groner has been responsible for significant changes in Maryland's domestic relations law. Beverly was an original member and subsequent chair of the 1976 Governor's Commission to study the Constitutional, statuatory, and common laws concerning domestic relations, and to recommend improvements. The Commission's recommendations led to the passage of the Marital Property Act in 1978, which generally gives wives a fairer shake in the disposition of property in divorce and annulment proceedings.
Elizabeth (Betty) Tennery is the surviving partner of the firm of Welsh & Tennery, which she and Barney Welsh (law professor, tennis player, and author of the newspaper feature "Welsh Rarebit") formed in the early Sixties. Betty has the distinction of having been one of only four women ever to serve as president of the Montgomery County Bar Association, a post she held in 1978-1979. In 1979, she became the first female attorney ever appointed to the Attorney Grievance Commission. As Association president, she came up with the idea of putting on an annual "Bar Revue". The first performance was modestly billed as "The First And No Doubt The Last". That proved totally inaccurate asthe show has had a run of 21 years.
Louise Terzian was the chief judge of the last three-member Orphan's Court in Montgomery County. A 1966 Constitutional Amendment transferred the duties of that Court to the Circuit Court.
Kathryn Digges was a school teacher before becoming a lawyer in the early Sixties. Wheil attending law school, she became the first female law clerk for a Circuit County Judge. At the outset of her legal career, she got into politics, and was elected to the County Council. She practiced law until 1986 when she took early retirement. She now resides in Delray Beach, Florida.
Elizabeth (Lib) Allen was a sole practitioner in Silver Spring who gained some prominence in the Bar. One winter she took a vacation trip to St. Croix in the Caribbean. That was it. That tropical island caught her fancy. She closed her practice and moved there. By 1970, she was practicing law in St. Croix and running a restaurant called the Mahogany Inn that featured alfresco dining under the tropical stars.
In the past decades or so women's progress in the law has gained increasing momentum. Female membership in the County Bar Association was well over 600 in 1994. Irma S. Raker, formerly both on the Circuit and District Courts in Montgomery County, is now a red-robed judge of the Court of Appeals, succeeding John F. McAuliffe, who took early retirement. Judge Raker is only the second woman to have served on the State's highest court.
On the Circuit Bench, currently four members of the 15-member court are women: Ann Harrington, Martha Kavanaugh, Ann Sundt, and Louise Scrivener. On the District Court Bench, four of the ten members are women: Marielsa Bernard, Mary Beth McCormick, Patricia M. Goldberg, and Katherine Savage.
A leading member of the trial bar today is Judith R. Catterton, of the firm of Catterton, Kemp, & Greenberg. She is the first woman in Maryland to be awarded membership in the American College of Trial Lawyers. She is also the first woman to have served as president of the statewide Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association.
Since 1991, the Chief Deputy in Montgomery County's Public Defender's Office has been Victoria (Vickie) Tyler. She has been in the Public Defender's Office since 1980, and was a high school English teacher in Baltimore before her admission to the Maryland Bar in 1978.
And that's the story of women in law in Montgomery County from Vivian to Vickie.