Judge Robert E. Cadigan dies at age 75

Noted trial lawyer and Baltimore County Circuit judge had earlier been a senior partner at Smith, Somerville & Case

August 30, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

Judge Robert E. Cadigan Sr., a retired Baltimore County Circuit judge who was a student of the Civil War, died Thursday of cancer at his home in the Pinehurst neighborhood of Baltimore County.

He was 75.

"He was one of my very best friends," James T. Smith Jr., Baltimore County executive, said Monday. "He was an outstanding lawyer and loved being appointed to the bench. He considered it the pinnacle of his career, and he appreciated the opportunity."

Retired Baltimore County Circuit Judge J. Norris Byrnes was a longtime friend and shared chambers with Judge Cadigan for years.

"He was the best. He was a tremendous lawyer and judge and just a terrific human being," Judge Byrnes recalled Monday. "He had an excellent judicial temperament."

"My main thought on Bob Cadigan is that he was absolutely the consummate gentleman in everything he said and did. He was an excellent lawyer and a fine person," said retired Baltimore County Circuit Judge John F. Fader II.

"On Friday, many of our clerks and others in the courthouse came to me in a very sorrowful way to let me know that he had passed away. He was so good and communicative to everybody," said Judge Fader. "His reputation was excellent, and he was knowledgeable, patient and had a great demeanor."

Judge Cadigan, the son of a Great Atlantic & Pacific grocery store manager and a secretary, was born in Baltimore and raised on Chateau Avenue in Govans.

After graduating from Loyola High School in 1953, he earned a bachelor's degree from Loyola College in 1957.

Judge Cadigan served as a bailiff and law clerk to Chief Judge Roszel C. Thompson of the U.S. District Court from 1957 to 1961, while earning his law degree at night at the University of Maryland School of Law.

After entering the Maryland bar in 1961, he joined the Baltimore law firm of Smith, Somerville & Case, where he was a trial lawyer for 33 years.

At the time of his appointment to Baltimore County Circuit Court by then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer in 1994, Judge Cadigan was a senior partner at Smith, Somerville & Case and was chairman of its litigation section.

"Bob had the right temperament and legal experience to be a judge. He treated lawyers and litigants with great respect," said Mr. Smith. "You could always go to him with an issue and come away with sage advice."

"He had a great sense of humor, which he used appropriately. He never picked on anybody or used his power to pick on lawyers. He'd never do that," said Judge Byrnes, who retired in 2005.

"He treated all lawyers with respect. I remember reading a quote from Bernard Malamud years ago that applied to Bob: 'In order to get respect, you have to give it.' He had respect for the job and got it back," Judge Byrnes said.

"Lawyers loved going into his court. They weren't afraid of him because they knew they would be treated fairly and that he knew the law," he said.

Judge Cadigan, who had lived in Rodgers Forge and had moved to Pinehurst in 1971, retired in 2005.

While living on Evesham Avenue in the early 1960s, Judge Cadigan met and fell in love with a neighbor and fellow carpooler, the former Dorothy LeFaivre, whom he married in 1963.

"We used to ride together, and Bob would drop me off at 11 E. Chase St., where I was working for an ophthalmologist," said Mrs. Cadigan.

An avid Orioles baseball fan, Judge Cadigan had coached several Little League teams and had served as president of the Oriole Advocates from 1971 to 1972.

He was also a serious student of the Civil War and an avid gardener who filled the backyard of his home with black-eyed Susans, dahlias and begonias that he loved, family members said.

"Bob had an indomitable spirit. He was diagnosed with cancer several years ago and was unwilling to give in to it," Mr. Smith said. "He loved life, his wife, being on the bench, and his family and friends. He will certainly be remembered."

A funeral Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Baltimore and Ware avenues, Towson.

In addition to his wife, Judge Cadigan is survived by two sons, Robert E. "Robb" Cadigan Jr. of Phoenixville, Pa., and David S. Cadigan of Phoenix, Baltimore County; a daughter, Claudia C. Anton of Orange, Ohio; and six grandchildren.


The maiden name of Judge Robert E. Cadigan Sr.'s wife was misspelled in earlier versions of this article. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

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