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John M. Glynn, retired Circuit Court judge, dies

Judge John Glynn oversaw the criminal docket of the Circuit Court.
Judge John Glynn oversaw the criminal docket of the Circuit Court. (Jed Kirschbaum / XX)

John M. Glynn, a retired judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City who formerly served as the People’s Counsel before the Public Service Commission, died Wednesday of Parkinsonism at his home in North Baltimore. He was 73.

“He was smart and had an acute mind,” said Court of Special Appeals Judge Stuart Berger. “Of John’s many attributes, the one that sticks is his dry sense of humor. It gave him the ability put things in a proper perspective.”

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Judge Berger, who had practiced law with Judge Glynn, also said, “In the frenetic world of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, he had an ability to see the issues clearly and treat people with respect. He loved Baltimore and was a dutiful public servant. As the judge in charge of the criminal docket, he did a superb job. He earned universal respect from the whole bar.”

Judge John Philip Miller, senior judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, said, “John focused on the public good at every turn. He was a true Baltimorean through and through. Loved the Orioles, Colts and Ravens. He had an amazing sense of humanity and he cared about doing the right thing. And he always did.”

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Born John Martin Glynn in Baltimore and raised on Saint Paul Street in Charles Village, he was the son of Bernard Joseph Glynn Sr., an Irish-born Carroll Independent Fuel worker, and his wife, Elizabeth Lyons, who was also from Ireland.

He attended the Margaret Brent School and was a 1964 Baltimore Polytechnic Institute graduate and member of its rifle team. After serving two tours in Vietnam in the Army, and spending a month walking through New Zealand while on leave, he earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the Johns Hopkins University. He was a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law.

“John was meticulous about treating people right,” said Charlie Vanneman, a friend from their days as Poly students. “He was informal, honest, direct and unvarnished. He would tell you the truth and hit you between the eyes with it.”

“He was a brilliant, humble guy with an Irish sense of humor,” said a neighbor and close friend, Steve Fruin, a retired attorney. “He was a fair guy who got along with everyone.”

Mr. Glynn’s family said he had an extensive legal background in civil and criminal litigation in both private and public service before his appointment as a District Court judge in 1994.

Judge Glynn served as People’s Counsel for the State of Maryland. He represented Maryland Utility Service consumers at state and federal agencies and court.

He was active in consumer advocate issues and worked for the passage of the federal hearing aid compatibility act and the establishment of a lifeline telephone relay system.

Judge Glynn was called upon to testify before the Maryland General Assembly as well as the U.S. Congress. Before his service at People’s Counsel, he also represented the rights of employees as a trial attorney for the National Labor Relations Board.

While serving as a District Court judge, he was chair of its Judicial Educational Committees and worked on domestic violence, drug addiction, criminal procedure, alternative dispute resolution and consumer utility regulation, as well as judicial ethics and moral philosophy.

He was also judge-in-charge of the criminal docket and chaired the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee from 1974 to 1976.

In 2003, when named to the criminal docket, Judge Glynn discussed the volume of cases before his court.

“In order to make the system run smoothly and without constant delays,” a 2003 Sun article said, "Glynn [said] he would have to clone himself “20 times.”

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Judge Glynn also practiced law at three law firms: Levin, Gann & Hankin, Sherbow, Shea and Tatelbaum, and Melnicove, Kaufman, Weiner & Smouse.

A 2007 Sun article said that many years after a man declared to be insane shot to death Baltimore Councilman Dominic M. Leone and wounded others inside a Calvert Street building housing a temporary City Hall, Judge Glynn declined to reduce the level of confinement of the gunman, Charles A. Hopkins.

“Judge Glynn expressed doubts throughout the hearing, asking several times why he should ‘have any faith’ that the community would be safe from Hopkins. 'We’re talking about trying to predict violence,’ Judge Glynn said, ‘which is difficult to do.’ ”

Gov. Parris Glendening named him to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City in 2001.

He retired in 2009 from full service as a judge but continued as judge-in charge of the asbestos docket.

In this capacity, he rejected a plan by the law firm of Peter G. Angelos to combine more than 10,000 asbestos-related lawsuits. He questioned whether the cases caught in the massive backlog had enough in common to be heard in concert.

“This Court is well aware of the need to provide justice for the large number of parties whose cases still languish on this docket,” Judge Glynn wrote in 2014. “But the current proposal is entirely too vague and unsupported to inspire confidence.”

He began attending sports games at Memorial Stadium as a child and taught himself Spanish by listening to language tapes while driving his children to school. He then traveled to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Spain several times. He enjoyed Jameson whiskey, hot and sour soup and scones.

Survivors include his wife of 37 years, Karen Myers, a Visiting Nurses Association nurse and Joseph Richey Hospice nurse; two sons, Martin “Tim” Glynn and Colin Glynn, both of Baltimore; a daughter, Bronwyn Glynn Duffy of Towson; a stepson, Jonathan Shull of Indiana; a brother, Bernard “Bryan” Glynn of Seattle; a sister, Maureen Alfonso of Winter Springs, Florida; and two grandchildren. A marriage to Barbara Walsh ended in divorce.

Plans for a funeral are incomplete.

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