Judge Alexander Harvey II, who served on the Maryland federal bench and was a World War II veteran, died of prostate cancer Monday at his Woodbrook home. He was 94.
“He was universally respected as being one of the finest judges in the history of the District Court of Maryland,” said Robert Shelton, an attorney who had been his law clerk. “I was somewhat in awe of him, and I think all of us clerks were. He was extremely focused, decisive and highly intelligent, and had an unimpeachable sense of integrity.”
“Considered a brilliant jurist who moves cases through his courtroom at a clip, Harvey traces his love of public service to his great-grandfather, Washington Curran Whitthorne, who was a U.S. senator and representative from Tennessee,” accoreding to a 1996 article in The Baltimore Sun written when he marked three decades on the bench.
Born in Baltimore and known as Zandy, he was raised on Brightside Road in Woodbrook. The son of Frederick Barton Harvey, a partner in an insurance firm, and Rose Lindsay Hopkins, a Union Memorial Hospital board president, he attended Calvert and Gilman schools, where he was a football quarterback, and graduated from the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa. He was one of seven children, the others of whom variously went on head a Baltimore bank, an investment house, earn doctorates and become environmental activists.
He served in the Army in World War II, assigned to a field artillery unit in France and Germany as an aerial observer. He flew 70 missions and received the Air Medal with the Oak Leaf Cluster.
After the war, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, where he was named to Phi Beta Kappa.
“He was the brightest of the bright,” said Charles Gillet, a friend since their days at Calvert School. “He was always on top of any situation. He knew all the answers. He was outgoing, easy to talk to and an altogether charming guy.”
After graduating from the Columbia University School of Law, Judge Harvey returned to Baltimore and joined the law firm of Ober, Grimes & Stinson. He briefly served as an assistant state attorney general, then returned to private practice.
In 1951 he married Elizabeth Williams.
In an oral history, he recalled being at a party where U.S. Sen. Daniel Brewster asked if he would be interested in a federal judgeship that would soon be available. He initially agreed, but heard nothing. In March 1966, Senator Brewster called him and offered him the nomination. “I was stunned,” Judge Harvey said in the interview. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved his nomination in September 1966.
In 1969 Judge Harvey presided over the case of Guido Iozzi, a Baltimore labor leader who was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of labor racketeering and was accused of seeking bribes from contractors in exchange for labor peace. The case generated considerable publicity and was moved to Alexandria, Va,. because of threats of violence here.
“I began clerking for him in the summer of 1968 and soon realized he was intelligent, incisive and disciplined,” said Andrew Jay Graham of the law firm of Kramon and Graham. “He was well organized, articulate and an excellent writer. He was great at getting to the essence of a dispute and could cut through any legal mess. His chambers ran like a well-oiled machine.”
He recalled that Judge Harvey, always punctual, would appear on the bench precisely at 10 a.m. and that the judge scheduled his day to include time to read a newspaper and another break for a Coca-Cola. He worked Saturdays and many Sunday afternoons.
Judge Harvey recalled the day Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigned his office at the old federal courthouse on Calvert Street. While Mr. Agnew’s no-contest plea was offered to Judge Walter E. Hoffman, reporters and onlookers made so much noise that Judge Harvey was forced to shut down his own courtroom, where he was hearing a case.
In 1981 Judge Harvey wrote a 49-page opinion saying that the president of the University of Maryland did not deprive Bertell Ollman, a Marxist and history teacher, of his constitutional rights in rejecting his appointment as head of the school’s department of government and politics.
In 1985, he accepted the guilty plea of John A. Walker Jr., who had spied for the Soviet Union and passed along military classified documents obtained by his 22-year-old son, a Navy seaman, Michael Lance Walker. In the oral history, Judge Harvey said he would have sentenced the elder Walker to death had the law permitted it. The elder Walker died in 2014 while in prison.
Judge Harvey sentenced Baltimore drug distributor Maurice “Peanut” King in 1985 to 50 years without parole and said the sentence was deserved because King was “dealing in human misery.”
In 1983, The American Lawyer magazine named Judge Harvey the best of 42 federal judges in the 4th U.S. Circuit, which covers the Mid-Atlantic region. The magazine called Judge Harvey "incredibly well organized. He invariably knows the case better than the lawyers involved."
“He was the epitome of what a judge should be — diligent and thorough,” said Benjamin Rosenberg, a Baltimore attorney. “He had the ability to analyze difficult legal problems. He didn’t do anything to command respect. It just radiated from him.”
Judge Harvey was a senior judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland from 1991 to 2004.
Judge Harvey enjoyed playing tennis and golf, and was a past Maryland squash champion. He spent his summers at Fishers Island, N.Y., and went spearfishing in Long Island Sound. He was a past board member of Church Home and Hospital.
A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Jan. 6 at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St.
Survivors include his wife of 66 years, Elizabeth Williams; a son, Alexander “Exie” Harvey IV of Baltimore; a daughter, Elizabeth “Lisa” Harvey Shapiro of Atlanta; a stepson, Claude K. “Rip” Williams Jr. of Largo, Fla.; a stepdaughter, Cynthia Collins of North Palm Beach, Fla.; two sisters, Jean H. Baker of Owings Mills and Ellen “Ellie” Kelly of Ruxton; four grandchildren’ and six great-grandchildren.