Marvin J. Land

Baltimore County Circuit Court judge gained a reputation for his keen intellect and compassion

March 11, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Marvin J. Land, a former Baltimore County Circuit Court judge and retired lawyer, died Sunday of cardiovascular disease at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The longtime Pikesville resident was 72.

Judge Land was born in Baltimore and raised on East Barney Street, where his parents owned a grocery store. He was a 1953 graduate of City College.

"While attending law school, Marvin worked as a butcher in his family's store," said his wife of 50 years, the former Ina Segal. When his father died, he ran the store while studying law at the University of Baltimore. He graduated in 1958 and earned that year's top score on the state bar exam, The Sun reported.

Judge Land maintained a private law practice from 1958 until he was appointed as a trial magistrate for the Woodlawn Court by Gov. Spiro T. Agnew in 1967. He held that post until 1971, when Gov. Marvin Mandel appointed him to the Baltimore County District Court.

Four years later, Mr. Mandel appointed him to the Baltimore County Circuit Court, where he remained on the bench until resigning in 1980 because of financial reasons.

"When I first accepted a judgeship, I took a pay cut," Judge Land told The Sun at the time. "I figured it was a public service and all that. The retirement is great, but you can't retire until you're 65. I have to worry about now."

Judge Land joined the Baltimore law firm of Weinberg and Green, where he remained until 1983, when he retired after suffering a massive stroke.

"I got to know Marvin when we were in college, and we have been close friends for more than 50 years," former Lt. Gov. Melvin A. "Mickey" Steinberg said yesterday.

"He was extremely bright and, as a judge, handled everything. Everyone regarded Marvin for his keen legal mind and his judicial demeanor. He was compassionate and understanding," Mr. Steinberg said.

Retired Maryland Court of Special Appeals Judge Paul E. Alpert, an old friend, said, "He was one of the most wonderful individuals you could ever meet. He was friendly and kind, and we've lost a really good man."

Retired Baltimore County Circuit Judge John F. Fader II echoed that sentiment. "He was a great presence, had a terrific grasp of the law and a compassionate temperament," he said. "His law clerks will tell you that they never saw him angry in the courtroom."

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Dana Levitz, who retired earlier this year, said he tried to emulate Judge Land, whom he had gotten to know as a young prosecutor. "He had the ability to make all sides feel good. He treated all with respect," he said. "Now that's not to say that he was a softie. If the situation called for it, he'd nail you."

For more than 30 years, Judge Land had experienced serious health problems. In 1977, he suffered his first heart attack, followed by the stroke in 1983. In the intervening 26 years, he survived six more heart attacks.

"Despite his physical problems, he refused to give in. He would not think of himself as a handicapped person and would not allow anyone else to think of him that way," Judge Fader said.

"Even though he had difficulty speaking because of the stroke, Marvin would always step forward to express an opinion on something he had read in the newspaper or a magazine about the law or politics," Judge Fader said. "He had an enormous intellect and though evidently frustrated by the inability to convey his thoughts, Marvin never lost his dignity."

Mrs. Land said her husband never gave up "trying to recapture the traits he had lost or hope that a cure was just around the corner."

After his stroke, Judge Land began regularly volunteering at The Chimes of Baltimore in Mount Washington, Sinai Hospital and in the University of Baltimore law library.

He was a longtime member of Beth Israel, which had named him "Man of the Year."

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Brothers, 8900 Reisterstown Road.

Also surviving are two sons, Dr. Samuel D. Land of Allentown, Pa., and Jeffrey P. Land of Arlington, Va.; two daughters, Pamela J. Stimpson of Intervale, N.H., and Susan J. Land of Salisbury; two sisters, Anne Heyman and Shirley Charik, both of Baltimore; and six grandchildren.

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