Phillip M. Sutley

[Age 66] The Baltimore criminal defense attorney was an All-American lacrosse player at Johns Hopkins in the 1960s.

October 06, 2007|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Phillip McKay Sutley, a Baltimore criminal defense attorney whose career spanned four decades, died Thursday in the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse. The Butchers Hill resident was 66.

Mr. Sutley may have died of a heart condition, said his wife of 25 years, the former Deborah Jennings, also a Baltimore attorney. She said he was also recuperating from recent surgery.

"He was one of the most talented and gifted lawyers that I've ever known," said Maryland Court of Special Appeals Judge Irma S. Raker.

"He cared about the poor and the plain folks who most needed representation. He left no stone unturned when his cases reached trial level," Judge Raker said yesterday. "And he didn't lose many cases, and those that he did had great success on appeal."

A friend of Mr. Sutley's who presided over several of his cases, Judge Raker called him "low-key and unflappable."

"He was a big guy with a really boyish and charming face that was highlighted by an impish grin," she said. "The whole world is going to miss him, and I know the legal community will miss him terribly."

Mr. Sutley, who was born in Baltimore, was the son of a physician and homemaker. He was raised in Ruxton and graduated in 1958 from Friends School.

He was an All-American lacrosse player at the Johns Hopkins University, where he played defense and started on the 1960, 1961 and 1962 teams.

Bob Scott, the legendary Hopkins lacrosse coach, called Mr. Sutley one of his "three stars." He said Mr. Sutley's teammates included Henry Ciccarone, who later succeeded Mr. Scott as coach, and Austin "Jerry" Schmidt, who later was an award-winning lacrosse coach at Hobart College and Princeton.

After graduating from Hopkins in 1962, Mr. Sutley served in the Army for several years. He went on to earn his law degree at the University of Baltimore in 1967.

"When he came to the bar in 1967, he made an immediate impact. He was eloquent and always well-prepared when he came in front of juries," said retired Court of Special Appeals Judge Charles E. Moylan Jr., who first became acquainted with Mr. Sutley when he was Baltimore state's attorney during the 1960s.

In 1993, Mr. Sutley represented Melvin Lorenzo Jones, who faced the death penalty after his conviction for killing and sexually assaulting a nun in her North Baltimore convent. During the sentencing phase of the trial, Mr. Sutley quoted Pope John Paul II and told city Circuit Court jurors, "Show this man mercy, please." Jones was sentenced to life without parole.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge John Grayson Turnbull Jr. said he went to law school with Mr. Sutley.

"He was just a wonderful guy and an outstanding lawyer who always did a great job for his clients," Judge Turnbull said.

Mr. Sutley's lifelong love of the outdoors and American Indians began as a youngster when he spent summers with relatives in South Dakota.

"He was very involved with the Red Cloud School in Pine Ridge, S.D., which is an orphanage and school for Native Americans. He donated money and helped promote it," said a son, Stuart M. Sutley of Ruxton.

Mr. Sutley was also a hunter and had enjoyed the sport on the Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and the Arctic Circle.

He and his wife completed a restoration two months ago of an old log cabin they discovered in Tennessee and later had shipped to their 30-acre farm in Garrett County.

A memorial service for Mr. Sutley will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Charles and Saratoga streets.

Also surviving are three other sons, Benjamin C. Sutley of Baldwin, and Zachary J. Sutley and Christopher J. Sutley, both of Butchers Hill; his mother, Cathryn Sutley Swann of Towson; two sisters, Sandra Sutley Kull of Hunt Valley and Sally Sutley Ross of New Baltimore, Mich.; and seven grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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