Hall Hammond

December 02, 1991

If Maryland judicial opinions are highly regarded and influential, and if Maryland courts are generally well-run -- and in both matters, they are -- much of the credit goes to Hall Hammond, a titan of Maryland jurisprudence, who died last Wednesday at 89.

Judge Hammond served the public law of the state for 31 years, from his appointment as deputy attorney general in 1941 until his retirement as chief judge of the Court of Appeals in 1972. That service included six years as attorney general and 20 years on the state's highest bench, first appointed by Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin, six of them as chief judge appointed by Gov. J. Millard Tawes. His legal thumbprint is everywhere.

Judge Hammond was known for the logical force of his judicial opinions and for the dry wit of his courtroom observations. But he was also an administrator. He supported creation of the Court of Special Appeals, the use of three-judge panels and some curtailment of the right of appeals, all to give the citizens their right to justice in a timely fashion.

As chief judge he asked circuit court judges to account for their time, and in 1967 he sent extra judges into Baltimore City to clear the docket. One of his last acts as chief judge was to deliver the first of the now-annual state-of-the-judiciary addresses to the General Assembly. In retirement he continued his earlier struggles in behalf of the sitting-judge principle in elections.

Maryland courts may or may not need more judges. They do need more judges of Hall Hammond's stature.

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