Herbert N. Maletz, 88, federal district judge

January 09, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Herbert N. Maletz, the oldest judge hearing cases on the federal bench in Maryland, died Sunday at St. Joseph Medical Center of complications from a fall last month at his North Baltimore home. He was 88.

Judge Maletz sat for more than 14 years at the U.S. District Court in downtown Baltimore, where he was recalled yesterday as a hard-working, patient and plain-spoken jurist.

"When I think of Judge Maletz, fairness, kindness, courageous commitment to the rule of the law and a lively intellect immediately come to mind," said his colleague, U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz. "He was a lovely man, and we were extremely fortunate to have to him sit with us on this court for so many years."

"Judge Maletz was a gentleman - courteous in court, well spoken and studious," said Andrew C. White, a former federal prosecutor who is now a lawyer in private practice. "He handled the long, complicated, complex drug trials involving some of the worst and most violent drug dealers in his region."

"The cases he heard were not always the most pleasant," said Melvin Sykes, an attorney and friend. "But on the bench he was happy. There was a lot of humanity in him."

In 1988, he presided over the 55-day trial of local drug dealer Tommy Lee Canty Jr., who was convicted of distributing 150 kilograms of cocaine and heroin sold in glass vials with gold plastic tops. He sentenced the kingpin to life without parole.

"In my judgment, the number of lives you ruined is incalculable," Judge Maletz told Canty at the 1990 sentencing.

Judge Maletz also heard the case of a Baltimore income tax preparer who cashed more than $160,000 in Internal Revenue Service refund checks mistakenly mailed to his St. Paul Street office. He gave the tax preparer two years of supervised probation, and ordered him to pay restitution.

"He was a compassionate judge - in his cases he had an ability to understand the human condition," said Mr. White, the former prosecutor. "He was never interested in punishing for the sake of punishment. There was a logic and consistency that ran through his rulings."

Beverly Daniels, his secretary, said that Judge Maletz had a sense of humor and often sang show tunes such as "Give My Regards to Broadway" in his chambers.

Born Herbert Naaman Maletz in Boston, he was an honors graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where he earned a degree in 1939. That year, he joined President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal as an attorney for the Works Progress Administration. During World War II, he served in the Army and held the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Except for a brief period in private practice, he held federal jobs - trial attorney for the Justice Department's antitrust division, counsel to the Office of Price Stabilization, and chief counsel to the House of Representative's Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee.

He was trial commissioner on the Court of Claims in Washington from 1961 to 1967, when President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated him for a seat on the U.S. Court of International Trade. He joined the bench in Baltimore in 1987.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at Lemmon Funeral Home, 10 W. Padonia Road, Timonium.

He is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, the former Catherine B. Loebach, and two grandchildren. A son, David Maletz, died in 1995.

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