Meyer M. Cardin, a former judge of the old Supreme Bench of Baltimore City and patriarch of a family of lawyers including Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, died of cancer yesterday at his Park Heights Avenue home. He would have celebrated his 98th birthday tomorrow.
"They don't make judges like that anymore. He loved people and the law, and he had lots of wisdom, which he loved to share," Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell said yesterday. "He came from a different era, when the law was a lot less complex. He brought common sense and a practicality that made things work."
"What a wonderful person. When someone opens up the dictionary to look up the definition of the ideal judicial temperament, they'll see a picture of Judge Cardin next to it," said Chief Judge Joseph F. Murphy Jr. of the state's Court of Special Appeals.
"Judge Cardin was always very courteous to everybody and had a wonderful way in dealing with lawyers, parties to cases and witnesses. He was able to reduce tension through his kindness and pleasant demeanor," Judge Murphy added.
Though he had retired from the Supreme Bench in 1977, Judge Cardin was called back in 1984 to hear cases for what had become Baltimore's Circuit Court -which he continued to do until the age of 87.
"I was the administrative judge, and we put him back to work. He tried many important cases, including a number of criminal cases," said Judge Joseph H.H. Kaplan, chief judge of the city Circuit Court. "He was very good at settling cases because he had a tremendous amount of common sense."
Born in Baltimore and raised in a rowhouse at the corner of Baltimore and Ann streets, he was the son of a soft drink manufacturer. He attended City College and the Army and Navy Prep School, and earned his law degree in 1929 from the University of Maryland School of Law.
After passing the state bar examination, he began practicing law with his elder brother, Jacob Cardin, in the downtown Equitable Building.
He was elected in 1935 to the House of Delegates, serving one four-year term. His career on the bench began in 1955 with an appointment as Baltimore's chief police magistrate, and two years later he was named chief magistrate of the old Baltimore Traffic Court.
He was chairman of the state Workmen's Compensation Commission for three years until being appointed an associate judge of the Supreme Bench by Gov. J. Millard Tawes in 1961.
"He helped me a lot when I was coming along because he had plenty of good, straightforward, sage advice. He became a darn good friend," said Judge Bell, the state's highest judge. "In later years, whenever I saw him, I'd kiss the top of his head, and he'd laugh."
"He never forced himself. He was a guy who showed young lawyers by example how it should be done and done right. They were always happy when they drew assignments in his court," Judge Murphy said. "He lived a long and wonderful life, and lived to see his children and grandchildren achieve personal and professional success."
Judge Cardin took up golf after his retirement from the bench and continued playing the game until well into his 90s. He also continued driving his Cadillac and enjoyed entertaining friends and family at the Woodholme Country Club.
A 33rd-Degree Mason, he was a member of St. John's Lodge 34, Yedz Grotto, the Golden Eagle Square and Compass Club and the Scottish Rite.
Judge Cardin was married twice. He met his first wife, the former Dora Green, a schoolteacher, while visiting the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. The couple had been married for 36 years when she died in 1972. His wife of 22 years, the former Sylvia Jacobson, died in 1998.
He was a member of Beth Tfiloh Congregation, 3300 Old Court Road, where services will be held at 3 p.m. today.
Judge Cardin is survived by two sons, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin of Pikesville and attorney Howard L. Cardin of Reisterstown; two stepsons, Sanford Jacobson of Baltimore and Edward Jacobson of New York City; a brother, Maurice Cardin of Palm Beach, Fla.; a sister, Shirley Cardin Mager of Pikesville; four grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.