Leo A. Hughes Jr.

The Baltimore Sun

Leo A. Hughes Jr., a retired trial attorney and legal mentor recalled for a commanding courtroom presence, died of a heart attack Feb. 16 at his Catonsville home. He was 72.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Woodhaven Avenue, he was a 1953 graduate of Forest Park High School, where he played basketball, football and baseball. Family members said he was a pitcher and once struck out a young Al Kaline, who then played for Southern High School and went on to play for the Detroit Tigers.

Mr. Hughes attended the Johns Hopkins University and received a degree from the old Mount Vernon School of Law in 1959. He was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1959.

After several years in private practice, he joined attorneys Donald Allen and Robert Thieblot to form a practice in downtown Baltimore. Several years later, he and other legal colleagues established Steen, Hughes & Seigel, where he practiced until he began a solo law practice in 1985. He retired in 1999.

"He had a deep, thunderous voice and a sense of humor and had the ability to persuade," said his daughter, Kelly Hughes Iverson of Baltimore. "He was quick on his feet and could run circles around the opposition."

Mr. Hughes was the 1982-1983 president of the Baltimore City Bar Association and earlier had been president of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association.

He also worked to create uniform language instructions for jurors.

A mentor to young lawyers, he gave annual closing-argument demonstrations as part of a nine-day course of the Maryland Institute for the Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers.

In 1983, he was elected a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and was later state chairman for Maryland.

He had also been a Baltimore justice of the peace and trial magistrate for Baltimore County in the 1960s.

Mr. Hughes was one of three founding board members of the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation, an organization he helped found in 1982 to help critically ill children being treated at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and the University of Maryland Medical Center. He helped expand his group's outreach to all 50 states.

"Leo had a major influence in our growth in the past 27 years," said Brian Morrison, the group's founder. "He was a towering figure - he stood 6 feet 3 1/2 - and when he spoke to a group, its members listened. But on top of that, he was a very kind man."

Mr. Hughes remained active with the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation and visited its two local sites, one on McElderry Street on the Hopkins East Baltimore medical campus and another in Canton in the former St. Casimir convent.

He coached youth baseball and basketball and was an avid golfer.

In recent years, he had been a devoted follower of his grandchildren's sporting events and concerts.

A Mass was offered Friday at St. Mark's Roman Catholic Church in Catonsville, where he was a lector and Eucharistic minister.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of 45 years, the former Gerry Fischer; a son, Kevin Leo Hughes of Media, Pa.; a sister, Jane Hughes Hays of Honolulu; and five grandchildren.

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