- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Marshall A. Levin, 83,Baltimore judge

BALTIMORE (AP) — Judge Marshall A. Levin, who presided over a historic asbestos-injury case that was the nation’s largest mass trial, died Feb. 1 of complications from a stroke at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. He was 83.

Judge Levin had been hearing cases for more than 40 years as a magistrate and judge, and was presiding on a fill-in basis in Baltimore Circuit Court until two weeks before his death.

“He just loved doing it,” said the court’s recently retired Administrative Judge Ellen M. Heller.

Judge Levin was born in Baltimore. His father, Harry O. Levin, was a well-known Baltimore lawyer and state senator.

He was a 1938 graduate of City College and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in 1941.

He interrupted law studies at Harvard University by enlisting in the Navy during World War II. After serving in naval communications in Europe, where he attained the rank of lieutenant, he returned to Harvard and earned his law degree in 1947.

Judge Levin was appointed by the Court of Appeals to handle the Baltimore court’s vast asbestos-injury docket.

To stem an ever-growing number of asbestos cases that were jamming the docket, Judge Levin decided to consolidate all pending asbestos claims from the city and several Maryland counties.

The result was a mammoth case with 8,600 plaintiffs, 14 defendants, 40 lawyers and more than 7 million documents.

Judge Levin took it all in stride. “Believe me, I’ve never been in a trial like this. No one has,” he told the Baltimore Sun on the eve of the 1992 trial. “I wish all the parties would settle and put me out of a job.”

Among Judge Levin’s other contributions was implementing a one-trial or one-day system for jury duty in Baltimore in 1982. Rather than having prospective jurors show up at court every day for a month, they now only had to report for one day or, if selected, sit through one trial.

Before the change, Judge Levin told the Sun at the time, “an undue amount of poor people and minorities were on city juries.”

“The movers and shakers of the city — the professional people — were generally excused because they said they could not leave their jobs for a month.”

Judge Levin is survived by two sons, Robert B. Levin of Baltimore and Burton H. Levin of Edwards, Colo.; a daughter, Susan L. Lieman of Owings Mills, Md.; a sister, Harriett Berkis of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and four grandchildren.

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