Morris Turk, 75, Circuit Court judge

September 02, 1996|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Morris Turk, a retired Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge who was active in dozens of organizations, died Saturday night of apparent heart failure at his Annapolis home after being ill with cancer for several years. He was 75.

Judge Turk was appointed to the bench in 1974 by then-Gov. Marvin Mandel and was elected in 1976 to a full 15-year term. He stepped down in July 1988, when his cancer was diagnosed, but continued in private practice and arbitration work.

"Morris did yeoman's service for the bench in this county," said Raymond G. Thieme Jr., administrative judge for the Fifth Circuit, which includes Anne Arundel. "He was an excellent judge, and when he retired, it was a loss to the bench."

Judge Turk was born in Fells Point in 1921, the son of tailor, and used to joke in court that he could still mend a suit. But daughter Beverly Turk, also a lawyer, said he saw a movie at age 8 about a lawyer and decided that was to be his career.

"A genius," said his wife, the former Irene Richman, noting that Judge Turk finished high school at Baltimore City College when he was 14 and had completed law school at the University of Baltimore by age 18. But the minimum age for admission to the bar was 21, Mrs. Turk said.

He enlisted in the Army during World War II and served in North Africa. In 1950, he was recalled for military duty in Korea for two years and attained the rank of captain. He was a member of the Jewish War Veterans.

As a young man, he worked in a jewelry store and a grocery store, and played the violin with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. His love of music continued throughout his life and led to service on the board of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra.

A past president of the county bar association, he was a legal adviser or member of several state and county boards, including the county Board of Education and Board of Election Supervisors, and the old State Appeals Board -- forerunner of the administrative law judge system that hears appeals from various boards.

In 1968, he formed a law firm -- Turk, Manis & Duckett, with what his daughter described as "an A-to-Z practice -- from adoption to zoning." He leaned toward real estate and zoning cases.

As a judge, his cases included abortion rights, toxic dumping, Glen Burnie renewal and open-meeting disputes.

"He was the most intelligent, brilliant man I ever met," said his former junior law partner, Warren B. Duckett Jr. -- a former Anne Arundel County state's attorney who succeeded Judge Turk on the bench. Judge Duckett retired in October.

Theodore G. Bloom, a retired judge of Maryland's Court of Special Appeals, recalled his days as a lawyer before Judge Turk. "I think he tried very hard with everyone in his courtroom. He treated the courtroom as if it were his living room, and all those present were in effect his guests. If he got upset at a lawyer, it never showed in the courtroom; he would invite you back to chambers.

"He was the kindest, gentlest, most considerate man on the bench I ever ran across," Judge Bloom said.

Judge Turk had a variety of interests, including Jewish literature and humor, Beverly Turk said. "But law was his love. He loved being a judge, and those were the happiest days for him."

Services will be held at 1 p.m. today at Kneseth Israel Congregation, Spa Road and Hilltop Lane in Annapolis. The family suggested memorial contributions to the American Cancer Society.

In addition to his daughter and his wife of nearly 49 years, both of Annapolis, Judge Turk is survived by two sons, Larry Turk and Ronald Turk of the Annapolis area; and three brothers, Samuel Turk of Alexandria, Va., Leonard Turk of Ellicott City, and Morton Turk of Charlotte, N.C.

Pub Date: 9/02/96

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