John E. Mudd, 75, law firm partner

ancestor treated John Wilkes Booth

November 15, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

John E. Mudd, a partner in the law firm of Mudd, Harrison and Burch who specialized in medical malpractice and insurance cases, died of respiratory failure Monday at his Towson home. He was 75.

In a legal career that spanned nearly 50 years, Mr. Mudd was a likable and highly respected figure.

"I remember him coming to Towson and joining my father's law firm in the early 1960s. He was a young, bright and energetic lawyer who was instantly popular. And he spent the rest of his life practicing law in Towson," said Baltimore County Circuit Judge John Grason Turnbull II.

"In the courtroom, he was dynamic and friendly, and always came across that way to jurors. He was a person they liked instantly. He was also very well-liked by judges and other members of the bar," Judge Turnbull said.

Mr. Mudd was born one of 11 children in Winchester, Va., where he spent his early years. He was a descendant of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, the Charles County physician who treated John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Mudd was later imprisoned at Dry Tortugas, Fla., and was pardoned in 1869 by President Andrew Johnson.

His maternal grandfather was Nicholas Charles Burke, a former Maryland Court of Appeals judge, for whom Burke Avenue in Towson is named.

"He was always proud of his Maryland ancestry," Judge Turnbull said.

In 1941, Mr. Mudd and his family moved to Towson, and his father died shortly thereafter. He graduated in 1944 from Towson Catholic High School.

He worked his way through Loyola College, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1949, and continued working while earning his law degree in 1955 from the University of Maryland School of Law.

While a student at Loyola, he met his future wife, Alice Maureen O'Toole, when he was her blind date for her senior prom at Notre Dame College of Maryland. They were married in 1950. She died in 1995.

Mr. Mudd served in the Army during the occupation of Japan from 1946 to 1948, and was later recalled to active duty during the Korean War. However, after tuberculosis was diagnosed, he spent two years in a military hospital.

He began practicing law in the Jennifer Building in Towson, and in 1960 joined the firm of Turnbull, Brewster, Boone, Maguire and Brennan. He later was a partner in Cook, Mudd and Howard, which subsequently became Cook, Mudd, Howard and Tracy.

Since 1984, he had been a partner in the firm of Mudd, Harrison and Burch, in the Jefferson Building in Towson. He had not retired at his death.

"For years, he did medical malpractice defense work and represented Johns Hopkins physicians. He also was active in insurance defense and represented many companies," said Richard C. Burch, a partner in Mudd, Harrison and Burch.

"John was top-shelf and an outstanding trial lawyer. He had tremendous communication skills. He was brilliant when it came to explaining complex cases to jurors," Mr. Burch said. "He always played it straight and was honest and thoughtful. And anything John told you, you could take to the bank."

Mr. Burch also praised his low-key demeanor.

"He was a fun person to be around. He was hard-working but was able to keep things in balance. He was a man who never brought stress or acrimony to the table. We were blessed to have him as a partner," Mr. Burch said.

He added: "Anyone who could not respect John Mudd would have difficulty respecting anyone."

Mr. Mudd had been active in Republican politics and in 1968 lost the 2nd Congressional District race to Clarence D. Long.

In addition to his work with his law firm, Mr. Mudd served since 1965 as a Circuit Court auditor. He had also served on the board of the old St. Joseph Hospital. He was also a member of the Towson Elks.

Mr. Mudd enjoyed exploring small Eastern Shore towns and attending parties. He was also an avid golfer, hunter and deep sea fisherman.

Mr. Mudd was a communicant of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Baltimore and Ware avenues, Towson, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 2 p.m. today.

Mr. Mudd is survived by three sons, John E. Mudd Jr. of Lutherville, Daniel J. Mudd of Pasadena, Calif., and Thomas R. Mudd of Sussex, England; four daughters, Mary Ann Connelly of Baltimore, Susan E. Mudd of Lutherville, Patricia E. Mudd of Towson and Amy Mudd Ciarlo of Timonium; two sisters, Louise Dobler of Fernandina Beach, Fla., and Marie Hettinger of Yakima, Wash.; and eight grandchildren.

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