Gary I. Strausberg, 53, city judge who ruled against cable TV firm

July 10, 2000|By Frank D. Roylance and Tanika White | Frank D. Roylance and Tanika White,SUN STAFF

Baltimore Circuit Judge Gary I. Strausberg, whose ruling in a lawsuit in 1997 over excessive late fees charged by United Cable Television of Baltimore resulted in a $7.6 million judgment against the company, died Saturday at Johns Hopkins Hospital of Burkitt's lymphoma. He was 53.

In his ruling, Judge Strausberg said the cable television company had "taken undue advantage of consumers."

The cash from the judgment has grown to more than $8 million since the ruling. After refunds to cable customers, more than $7 million will go to a cable education fund established under the Mayor's Office of Cable and Communication.

Circuit Court Administrative Judge Ellen M. Heller put Judge Strausberg in charge of the civil docket last fall. She said he was "an excellent judge and an excellent attorney before that."

"He was truly dedicated to perform his duties at the very highest standards," Judge Heller said. "In particular, he had an astute mind and was challenged by complex litigation."

She said one of Judge Strausberg's great strengths was his ability to show wisdom and compassion at the same time. When presiding over drug treatment court, Judge Heller said he didn't just cajole or sanction his charges.

"He gave them personal attention and monitored them through their probation and encouraged them not to fall back on their habits," she said.

Judge Strausberg was born in Lodz, Poland, in 1947. He was the son of Holocaust survivors Jacob and Felicia Strausberg.

When he was two years old, his parents left Poland for Israel to escape the imposition of Communist rule. The family moved again, to the United States, when Judge Strausberg was 13.

He graduated from Brooklyn (N.Y.) College in 1969. He earned his law degree from the George Washington University Law School in 1972 and a graduate law degree from Harvard University in 1975.

He became a law clerk for Edward S. Northrop, then chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Maryland, in 1973, and then went to work at the U.S. Department of Justice.

From there, Judge Strausberg became a member of the Melnicove, Kaufman, Weiner and Smouse law firm in downtown Baltimore.

He married Ada Mark, of Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1971. She described him as "wise, charitable and beloved by all."

The Strausbergs moved to Columbia in 1972, where they lived until 1989.

That year, Judge Strausberg moved to Baltimore's Mount Washington area and opened a small law firm in Pikesville - Janet & Strausberg, which became known for arguing medical malpractice cases.

In 1995, Gov. Parris N. Glendening appointed him to fill a vacancy on the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. He was unopposed in his bid for election to the seat in November 1996.

Judge Strausberg was a former president of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association, and was an officer of the Baltimore City Bar Association. He also wrote a three-volume treatise, "Maryland Litigation Forms and Analysis."

He was a member of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Pikesville, and spoke six languages - Polish, Hebrew, English, French, Spanish and Yiddish.

Services will be held at 4 p.m. today at Sol Levinson and Bros. Inc., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Mark David Strausberg of Chicago; and a daughter, Sherene Michelle Strausberg of Baltimore.

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