Joseph L. Broccolino Jr., 84, attorney who once served as municipal judge

January 29, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Joseph L. Broccolino Jr., a retired attorney and former city judge, died yesterday of complications from a stroke at his home in Northeast Baltimore. He was 84.

A former city magistrate, Mr. Broccolino was elected as a judge of the old Municipal Court in 1962. But his more than a decade on the bench ended with removal in 1973, the result of a highly publicized investigation into parking-ticket fixing. He then resumed practicing law in the downtown Munsey Building until retiring about 15 years ago.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Belnord Avenue, he was a 1936 City College graduate. He earned a law degree from the University of Baltimore in 1942, paying his way through school with a tailoring job at the old Baltimore Clothing Co.

As a young man, he became active in East Baltimore neighborhood politics. He joined the Young Men's Bohemian Democratic Club of the 7th Ward and the Shamrock Democratic Club, among other organizations. He was also a union organizer for workers at the former Glenn L. Martin Co. aircraft plant in Middle River.

He established a law practice in 1942 and was a federal Department of Labor attorney in the 1950s. He ran unsuccessfully for the House of Delegates in the 1952 and in 1954.

As an appointed trial magistrate and elected Municipal Court judge -- in an era when judges heard many cases in police station courtrooms -- Mr. Broccolino presided over traffic, housing and criminal cases. Although the Maryland Court of Appeals removed him in 1973, a state commission said that Mr. Broccolino was "never shown to have personally benefited from any of his actions, either financially or otherwise."

"I thought he was an extremely fair and compassionate judge," said Travis Kidd, a former Evening Sun reporter who covered his courtroom. "He was very literary. He'd quote from Oscar Wilde or Shakespeare. He'd often say that he thought justice should be tempered with mercy. He'd dismiss cases he thought the police hadn't prepared properly."

One day, Mr. Kidd recalled, Judge Broccolino threw out of the case of Johns Hopkins medical school students who had been arrested for playing tennis in Patterson Park without shirts.

"The cops didn't always like him," Mr. Kidd said.

"My dad went on and accepted the [Court of Appeals] ruling as his destiny," said a daughter, Joanne Broccolino of Timonium. He would say to a criminal, `You need some discipline. Would you like to go in the Army or to jail?' They would often go into military service and come back and thank him."

In retirement, Mr. Broccolino cultivated roses and azaleas at his Mayfield home.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, Harford Road at Chesterfield Avenue, where he was a member.

He is also survived by his wife of 55 years, the former Adelinda Scacchetti; two sons, Frederick Broccolino and Joseph L. Broccolino III, both of Baltimore; two other daughters, Linda Byers of Petaluma, Calif., and Diane Novak of Baltimore; and four grandchildren.

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