E. McMaster Duer, retired circuit judge

E. McMaster Duer, retired chief judge of the 1st Judicial Circuit on the Eastern Shore, died Monday of heart failure at his home, Brentwood Farm in Princess Anne. He was 82.

Judge Duer retired in 1975. He was appointed to the Circuit Court bench in 1952 and became chief judge in 1969. His father, Robert F. Duer, had served on the same bench before him.


Lawyers and judges who knew McMaster Duer praised him for his common sense. Charles E. Hearne Jr., a former law partner in Salisbury, added that he was "a congenial person and a great storyteller" and "was well-liked even by lawyers he ruled against."

Retired Judge Lloyd L. Simpkins praised his fairness.


RTC R. Patrick Hayman, a Princess Anne lawyer, said "his ability to cut through the legal mumbo jumbo was legendary."

Judge Duer had on several occasions presided in Baltimore courts when they were short-handed.

A native of Princess Anne, he was a graduate of Washington High School there, the University of Virginia and the University of Baltimore law school.

In the late 1930s, he, his father and Mr. Hearne formed the Salisbury law firm of Duer, Hearne and Duer.

During World War II, Judge Duer was an Army staff sergeant in the Counter Intelligence Corps.

From 1946 to 1952, he was Somerset County state's attorney.

He had been on the board of the Bank of Somerset and the advisory board of its successor, the Peninsula Bank.

He had also been on the board of the Peninsula General Hospital in Salisbury. He had been junior warden of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Princess Anne, where services were to be conducted at 11 a.m. today.


Judge Duer was a member of the Green Hill Yacht and Country Club, the American Legion and the Society of Colonial Wars.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, the former Lillian Gladys Miles; a daughter, Anne Duer Gee of Baltimore; and two grandsons.