Toyja E. Kelley, Esquire
It is hard to believe that my term as MDC President is nearly over. When I sat down to write my final President’s Message, the only thought that kept coming to mind was “thanks.” Author Dietrich Bonhoeffer is credited with saying that “In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” Bonhoeffer was no doubt on to something. So with this President’s Message, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank many, but certainly not all, who have made my MDC life and President’s year much more rich.
I want to begin by thanking the person that has probably been most responsible for keeping MDC on the rails over the past year and that is our executive director, Kathleen Shemer. Kathleen has served as MDC’s executive director for more than 20 years. For those of you who have not served on MDC’s Executive Committee, you may not fully appreciate all that Kathleen does to keep the organization operating. I have really admired Kathleen’s organizational skills and patience. I am certain that it has not always been easy dealing with us defense lawyers. Thank you, Kathleen.
I have been saying for the past few years that the MDC Trial Academy has become a flagship event for the organization. For that reason, it was important to me that I have an involved role with the planning and organization of this year’s event. Of course there were plenty of people that deserve all of the credit in making this year another successful one for the Trial Academy, but I would have to start by thanking Taren Stanton of Tydings & Rosenberg. Taren did most of the heavy lifting in pulling off the Academy, which took place at the BWI Marriott on April 11th. We had nearly 40 attendees and a numerous sponsors in attendance, who got to see four accomplished trial lawyers practice their craft. U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Sullivan gave a funny and informative keynote address during lunch. None of this would have happened but for Taren’s hard work in seeing that every detail was covered. Thank you, Taren.
I also owe a great deal of gratitude to the Trial Academy’s faculty, and Peggy Ward in particular. When we ran into trouble trying to fill out the Program’s faculty, Peggy went above the call of duty and lined up the final faculty members. Indeed, it was also one of Peggy’s cases that served as the inspiration for the fact pattern used in the Academy. Carlos Stecco and Charlie Arcodia, two members of the Maryland Association for Justice, played the roles of the lawyers for the plaintiff in the fact pattern. Two of our expert witness sponsors served as the experts in the case. The clients were played by students from the Mock Trial Teams at the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore. Joe Jagielski was wonderful as our trial judge. I am obviously biased, but there is no doubt that the dynamic duo of Mary Dimaio and Peggy Ward secured a total defense victory in the mock trial. Thanks to all of you who participated in making the 2014 Trial Academy such a great success.
I think this year was also exceptionally successful because of MDC’s legislative efforts thanks to Chris Boucher, Gardner Duval, Nikki Nesbitt, Ileen Ticer, Mike Dailey and others. I am particularly pleased that I did not have to testify in Annapolis this year! Thanks to these efforts the following bills opposed by MDC did not pass: jury excusal, dram shop, attorney’s fees to prevailing plaintiffs, and all plaintiff medical malpractice and statutory cap bills. Thanks to all those involved, MDC continues a respected voice during the state’s legislative session.
I am very pleased to announce to the general membership that we are reestablishing the Employment Law Committee. Bob Baror, Esq. from the Thatcher Law Firm and Jaime Luse from Tydings & Rosenberg have agreed to co-chair the reformed Committee. I am excited about the impact that this Committee can have on MDC’s future.
Finally, I want to say that I am extremely grateful for having had the experience of working this past year with other Executive Committee members Mike Dailey, Nikki Nesbitt, Marisa Trasatti, and Immediate-Past Chair Mary Dimaio. You were all a real pleasure to work with and I look forward to seeing where you take MDC into the future.
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