Milton K. 'King' Hill Jr., trial attorney

  • Milton "King" Hill
Milton "King" Hill (Baltimore Sun )
October 08, 2014|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | The Baltimore Sun

Milton K. "King" Hill Jr., a well-known Baltimore trial attorney who enjoyed sailing the Chesapeake Bay and Magothy River, died Sunday at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 87.

"What a great guy. I started my career with him when I worked as a summer law clerk for Smith, Somerville and Case, which in those days in the 1970s was a top-notch trial law firm," said U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett. "I owe my career to King Hill. He got me into the courtroom early, and I was very fortunate to work with him."

"He epitomized a trial lawyer," said Ann Barbara Spicer, who worked with Mr. Hill at Smith, Somerville and Case after she joined the firm in 1965 as a young lawyer.

"He was intelligent, articulate, honorable, and people liked him, and he always gave a great presentation. He was the whole package and the consummate professional," said Ms. Spicer, who is now a partner in the law firm of Kelly, Spicer and Sidle.

The son of Milton King Hill Sr., a Baltimore & Ohio Railroad employee, and Mary Hall Hill, a homemaker, Milton King Hill Jr. was born in Baltimore. He never used his first name and was known as King.

He lived on Parkwyrth Avenue in Waverly until moving in 1936 with his family to University Place. After graduating in 1945 from City College, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces, where he was a gunner aboard B-29 bombers and participated in the occupation of Germany.

Mr. Hill was discharged in 1946 and enrolled at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Phi and earned a bachelor's degree in 1950.

Two years later, he graduated with first honors from the University of Maryland School of Law. In 1953, he joined Clark, Thomsen and Smith. He became a partner in 1955 in the firm that became Smith, Somerville and Case.

Mr. Hill, who headed the firm's malpractice section, maintained an active trial practice. He represented such clients as the Ford Motor Co., Eli Lilly, Upjohn, Union Memorial, St. Agnes, Sinai and Peninsula General hospitals, physicians and insurance companies in civil, product liability and medical malpractice cases.

"King taught me how to practice law. He raised me at Smith, Somerville and Case," said Michael Baxter, a partner in the firm of Baxter, Baker, Sidle, Conn & Jones. "For a lot of lawyers practicing today, he defined what being a lawyer was, and he had the full range. And he attracted the most prestigious clients to the firm that it ever had."

"He was an outstanding and highly respected trial lawyer. He always did an enormous amount of preparation before trial," said Judge Bennett.

"He was an excellent presence in the courtroom, and his style was very methodical. He didn't waste a lot of time. King was very pointed in his cross-examination and believed that more is not better," said Judge Bennett.

"He got right to the heart with a witness, could control them, got what he wanted, and made his point. And juries paid attention to him, and every question he asked," said Judge Bennett.

Mr. Hill was a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Society of Barristers and the Maryland State Bar Association, where he had been chairman of the Insurance and Negligence Section.

He also had been chairman of the Medical-Legal Committee of the Maryland Bar Association and had been a member from 1974 to 1980 of the Baltimore City Judicial Selection Commission.

From 1971 to 1994, he had been a member of the board of Union Memorial Hospital. He had been a member of the advisory board at the University of Baltimore School of Law from 1980 to 1989 and a charter member of the Center Club.

Throughout his life, Mr. Hill enjoyed sailing, and also enjoyed competitive sailing on the Chesapeake Bay aboard his boat, the Royaute, where he liked to vacation with his family.

He was a member of the Potapskut Sailing Association on the Magothy River.

Judge Bennett recalled that Mr. Hill enjoyed challenging several of his partners, who were also sailors, to highly competitive races on the Magothy.

Mr. Hill retired in the early 1990s.

In 1949, Mr. Hill married the former Agnes Ciotti. Until moving to Oak Crest Village retirement community in Parkville in 1999, they had lived for 36 years on Tunbridge Road in Homeland.

"Throat cancer in 2000 produced a severe limitation on his ability to speak," said his daughter, Susan Hill Gebhardt of Timonium.

"As he cared for my mother, who died in 2007 from complications of Alzheimer's disease, he showed many people what true love and adoration looked like," said Ms. Gebhardt.

In recent years, Mr. Hill enjoyed racing a 4-foot radio-controlled model sailboat in a pond on the grounds of the retirement community, reading books and several newspapers each day, and working on his computer.

Funeral services will be held at noon Saturday in the chapel at Oak Crest Village, 8820 Walther Blvd.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include two sons, M. King "Chip" Hill 3rd of Brooklandville and Tom Hill of Dillon, Colo.; and five grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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