Circuit Judge Goudy to step down today


The first thing you may notice about H. Chester Goudy Jr. is that he does not look 60 years old.

Judge Goudy, who will resign effective today from the Anne Arundel Circuit Court bench, still has jet-black hair, a wrinkle-free face and is slender enough to look as if he still could be playing lacrosse for the University of Maryland.

That may give the impression that 18 years as a judge has been a soft life for the University of Maryland Law School graduate.

But, according to those who know him, nothing could be further from the truth.

"He's always taken his work very seriously and been very careful and deliberate in his approach. He really works at it," said Edwin A. Lechowicz, his law partner from 1970 until 1977, when Judge Goudy was appointed to the bench by acting Gov. Blair Lee III.

"He's always been a meticulous, no-nonsense kind of judge," said Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee.

Born in Baltimore, Judge Goudy attended Towson High School for two years before graduating from the Severn School in 1952.

As a student at the University of Maryland in the 1950s, he took an aptitude test to help determine his vocational interests and found that he had two -- farming and aviation.

Judge Goudy remembers that now with a laugh. But at the time, he said, it made sense.

The son of a prominent Baltimore lawyer, Judge Goudy spent his youth working at his parents' Severna Park garden nursery, and he enrolled in the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Maryland with plans to fly in the Korean conflict.

But when the war ended before he graduated, he put his dreams of flying on hold, took his father's advice and went to law school.

By the time he graduated from law school in 1961, his father had died, and he was married and the father of three children himself.

He went to work at the law firm of his uncle, F. Gray Goudy, a Baltimore lawyer who specialized in insurance work. He spent the next four years there until Joseph A. Stevens, the deputy state's attorney in Anne Arundel County, offered him a job as a part-time prosecutor. He jumped at the chance.

"I felt like I was being pigeon-holed into one area and that's something I've never liked," he said.

For the next five years, Judge Goudy devoted half his week to a private practice in a windowless closet-sized office in Severna Park and the other half at the state's attorney's office, sharing a desk with Mr. Lechowicz.

After six months as an assistant, he was promoted to deputy state's attorney, helping oversee 10 assistants. He held that position until 1970 when he left to practice law full time.

After his appointment to the bench, he ran unopposed for re-election in 1978 and 1994. Gov. Parris N. Glendening has yet to name a replacement.

In an interview last week at his Severna Park home, Judge Goudy talked like a man anxious to get on with his life.

"It's [the judgeship] been a great experience, but what I really need is a six-month sabbatical, and there's no way to get one in this job," he said. "What I'm going to do is just relax for a month or two and then decide on something."

He said he intends to remain active professionally, possibly by opening a private law practice and working as a mediator for consulting firms that resolve civil disputes privately instead of in court.

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