On March 24, members if the Baltimore County legal community, along with his friends and family, gathered in Historic Courtroom No. 5 for the investiture of newly appointed Circuit Court Judge Paul J. Hanley. Judge Hanley ascended to the bench as one of Baltimore County’s own, continuing a Towson legal tradition started by his father and has continued by he and his brothers.
Judge Hanley was born on March 15, 1956 and at an early age was exposed to his father Claude A. “Speed” Hanley Sr.’s Towson law practice. Patrick D. Hanley and Daniel J. Hanley had the privilege of moving their brother onto the bench.
Pat Hanley provided a few anecdotes about Judge Hanley’s early years and growing up in a lawyer’s household. When Judge Hanley was born, the Baltimore County Bar Association gave his father a twin baby carriage for him and his twin brother Mickey. One afternoon Pat and Dan were in the alley behind their house in Baynesville giving Judge Hanley and Mickey a ride in the carriage. In order to see how tough their infant brothers were, Pat and Dan turned the carriage over. Pat said that since his brother recovered well, he would probably make resilient but hard-headed Judge.
In the 1960s it was common for Towson’s lawyers to work on Saturday mornings. Before and after their weekend work, the local bar would meet at the old Towson House. The Hanley boys would often accompany their father to these Towson House meetings. Speed would also bring his sons to evening sessions of Magistrate Court. Judge Hanley’s affection’ for the law germinated in this atmosphere.
In adolescence the Hanley brothers would often play in front of the old Courthouse, directly across Washington Avenue from their father’s law office. Judge Hanley was quick to note that the ceremonial cannon on the courthouse lawn was pointed at their father’s office.
Judge Hanley, like his brothers, attended Loyola high school. Pat recalled when Judge Hanley, as a sophomore, cut class with his friends and skipped over to the Courthouse to watch a few trials. After spending some time in the elder Judge John Grason Turnbull’s courtroom, Judge Hanley and his friends moseyed over to Courtroom No. 5, where to their surprise Judge Walter M. Jenifer, Judge Hanley’s uncle, was presiding. Judge Jenifer promptly asked why Judge Hanley and his friends were not in school. Judge Hanley, having been caught red-handed, told his uncle that school was cancelled. Judge Jenifer gave him the benefit of the doubt.
After high school, Judge Hanley attended Baltimore’s Loyola College. During the summers, he and his brothers would work for their father. One of Judge Hanley’s responsibilities was to file pleadings with the Court, which was located at the old Courthouse. More often than not, Judge Hanley was tasked with filing a pleading before the Clerk’s Office closed at 4:30 p.m. At that time, all filings had to be docketed the same day, so the late filings made the Clerk’s Office staff stay late on many an occasion. Pat wondered aloud if the screens at the Civil Department windows in the new Courts Building owed their existence to his brother.
After his father’s death, Judge Hanley began working for Billy Allen in the Clerk’s Office. Judge Hanley continued this job while attending the University of Baltimore Law School at night. Later on while at UB, Judge Hanley had the opportunity to serve as the Court Clerk for circuit court Judges Marvin Land and James H. Langrall.
In December 1982 Judge Hanley was admitted to the Bar. After losing out to Pat for a position with the County Attorney’s Office, Judge Hanley obtained a job doing panel public defender and juvenile delinquency work for Paul Feeley Sr., the District Public Defender for Baltimore County.
After Pat’s remarks, Dan Hanley seconded Pat’s motion and resumed Judge Hanley’s chronology. Judge Hanley, Pat and Dan took the practice Speed handed off to them and set up shop at 206 Washington Avenue in Towson, down the street from where their father’s office had been. Doing public defender juvenile panel work was a great experience for Judge Hanley, as it allowed him to get into court and learn the practice of law on his feet.
In 1986, Judge Hanley began to receive a lot of work from a lawyer in Reisterstown named Martin Smith and his law office, Smith, John & Smith. Through Mr. Smith and other referrals, Judge Hanley was able to build his practice and eventually gave up his public defender work for about a decade. In 1995, the Circuit Court advertised a part-time Master’s position for juvenile work. In part because he needed good health insurance, Judge Hanley applied and received the appointment. Effective July 1, 2008, Judge Hanley became a full-time Master and closed his civil practice.
Dan concluded his remarks by thanking retired Judge Thomas J Bollinger and others who encouraged Judge Hanley to apply for the Judgeship. Pat’s motion, seconded by Dan, was granted by Administrative Judge Kathleen Gallogly Cox. Judge Robert E. Cahill Jr., Judge Hanley’s longtime friend from law school, Judge Langrall’s chambers and the practice provided the response from the Bench. Judge Cahill reminded Judge Hanley to be himself, trust his intuition and not forget where he came from.
Judge Hanley took the oath on the family Bible, held by his wife Hunter, and was robed by his sons John Marshall and Claude. District Court Judge and BCBA President Philip Tirabassi provided Judge Hanley with the traditional first robe from the Bar Association and the Nordstrom box was signed. Judge Hanley’s wife walked him to the bench.
Judge Hanley thanked Hunter for 23 years of marriage and expressed his pride in his two sons. He thanked his brothers and the many people who aided his career and encouraged his application to the bench: the late Judges Land and Langrall; retired Judges Bollinger and A. Gordon Boone Jr. and current Judges Cahill Jr., Vicki Ballou-Watts, Cox, Jan Marshall Alexander, Timothy J. Martin. He also acknowledged his gratitude to Leonard H. Shapiro, Delegate Adrienne A. Jones, Martin Knott Jr., Timothy Maloney, Walter Pinkard Jr., Jim O’Connor, Chuck Kerr and Michael Smith among others. Judge Hanley expressed his honor to have served as a juvenile master and to now serve as a Circuit Court judge.
Afterwards a reception was held at Valley Country Club.