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Retiring judge to keep robes for asbestos trial


After 12 years on the Baltimore Circuit Court bench, Judge Joseph I. Pines will lay down his gavel today. But he'll pick it up again Monday.

Judge Pines officially retires today because he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 on Sunday.

However, he has been reappointed so that he can continue to preside over the huge and complex asbestos case that began in his courtroom in January.

In that case, the city is seeking $18 million from five asbestos manufacturers and contractors that installed the cancer-causing agent in municipal buildings.

Judge Pines can work up to 180 days while in retirement and promises to make himself "available to [the courts] whenever they need it."

He plans to continue serving as chairman of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Mental Health.

The last 12 years "were exciting, interesting and challenging," Judge Pines said. "I was happy to be a part of it and render my services to the citizens of Maryland."

Judge Pines was appointed to the Circuit Court -- then the Supreme Bench -- in January 1980.

Before joining the bench, Judge Pines spent more than 30 years as a private attorney, primarily handling civil cases.

He came to Baltimore from his native New York with his family at age 3.

Judge Pines received a law degree from the University of Baltimore in 1942. Thirty-four years later, he received a master's in liberal arts degree from Johns Hopkins University. He once said he got the liberal arts degree to "just round out my professional and cultural background."

Judge Pines' colleagues spoke highly of him, describing him as a hard-working, effective and patient judge, a scholar and a gentleman.

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