Michael E. Loney, a retired Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge recalled for his moderate temperament, died of congestive heart failure Oct. 5 at his Arnold home. He was 73.
"He was a gentleman and a gentle man," said a friend, Judge Nancy Davis-Loomis, administrative judge of the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. "He loved the law, and he loved helping people in his private life and on the bench. He was always fair and always of moderate temperament."
Judge Davis-Loomis said, "He was the kind of judge you hope you get."
Born in Baltimore and raised on Monastery Avenue in Irvington, he was the son of a homemaker and a hardware salesman. In a 2009 Baltimore Sun interview, he said he did not exhibit academic excellence at Mount St. Joseph High School, where he graduated in 1957.
"I was more interested in working in a supermarket to buy a car and go out with girls," he said in the interview.
He delivered newspapers and worked in grocery stores. He later took a job in the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s downtown clerical department and studied accounting at the old Baltimore College of Commerce.
"He was very honest, brilliant and as meticulous as any individual I've ever met," said Dan Conkling, a Glen Burnie accountant and attorney and a friend since 1958. "He was a hard worker, always burning the midnight oil. He was also friendly and was someone you enjoyed spending time with. He was known to give someone a hug when he was your friend."
According to a biographical sketch his family provided, Judge Loney put himself through the University of Baltimore School of Law. He took a job at the Glen Burnie law firm of H. Chester Goudy, Edwin Lechowicz and Jacob Davis in 1966, the year he passed the Maryland bar exam. He became a partner in 1970.
Popular with other members of his profession, he became president of the Anne Arundel Bar Association in 1979. Gov. William Donald Schaefer named him to the District Court of Anne Arundel County in 1990. He was appointed to the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court in 1997. He retired at age 70 in 2009 and later heard trials as a retired judge.
"Lawyers speak of his demeanor as an artful balance: patience, diplomacy and soft voice, coupled with clarity and direct words," said the 2009 Sun profile. "The upshot, they say, is that their clients believe they have been treated well and their issues heard, even if they dislike Loney's decisions."
In 2004, Judge Loney was appointed to the county's adult Drug Court program. He oversaw its operation until his retirement. According to The Sun's 2009 article, the drug court saw the same number of people mend their ways as those who returned to breaking the law. He also handled adoption cases, which were personal favorites, and domestic cases.
In one high-profile case, Judge Loney sentenced Linda Lee Nichols, a pickup truck driver convicted of killing two teens in an auto accident. Because of the overflow crowd at the sentencing, many of whom were teens, he authorized a closed-circuit feed of the hearing.
"It was, he said, important for the community to see how the court handles such a heartbreaking case, and for friends of the dead youths to be included," The Sun's 2009 article said. "The five-year prison term he handed down was seen as both too short and longer than most sentences for drunken-driving fatalities."
Family members said that about 20 years ago, Judge Loney began studying Spanish. He joined dental mission trips to Central America and became a translator, driver and medical assistant in distant areas where water, power and good roads were scarce. He worked in Guatemala, Panama and Ecuador and vacationed in Canada, Europe, China and Japan.
The Maryland Hispanic Bar Association gave him its 1997 Outstanding Service Award.
The Sun's profile of him said that he was part of Circuit Riders, a motorcycle-driving group of judges and a court master. He had a Harley-Davidson and drove it until he had an accident and broke a wrist about five years ago.
Judge Loney taught at the University of Baltimore School of Law. In 2008, he received an Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award. He also taught at Anne Arundel Community College and at professional legal associations.
He served on the board of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and supported Mount St. Joseph's, the Colonial Players and Hospice of the Chesapeake. He also founded a scholarship at the University of Baltimore
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, 1601 Pleasant Plains Road in Annapolis, where he was a member.
Survivors include his wife of 81/2 years, the former Nicole Cayer; a son, Kevin Loney of Wilmington, Del.; three daughters, Patricia Peusch of Madison, Ala., Karen Walsh of Arnold and Elizabeth Garvey of Niceville, Fla.; a sister, Joyce Loney of Linthicum; and nine granddaughters. A previous marriage ended in divorce.