K. Nichole Nesbitt, Esquire
Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, LLP
For civil defense attorneys, our time is our trade. And as humans with lives outside of the legal profession, we often feel we have too little time to do all of the things that are important to us. That’s why it is so gratifying and inspiring to see our members stepping up and giving their time to help make improvements to our chosen vocation. With great enthusiasm, I applaud just a few of the great examples I have seen as MDC President this year.
For starters, this magazine would not have ended up in your hands without the time devoted by our publications chairs, Laurie Ann Garey and Leianne McEvoy, and our Executive Director, Kathleen Shemer, who oversees all things MDC. Equal appreciation goes to the members who contributed the articles in these pages. Thank you all for keeping us current; your great work saves time for the rest of us.
The members of MDC’s legislative committee – including Chris Boucher (your incoming president), Gardner Duvall, John Sly, Nicole Deford, and Mike Dailey – spent long hours drafting written arguments and presenting live testimony on bills addressing matters from lead paint to medical malpractice, workers’ compensation to punitive damages and more. There’s no better training for a jury trial than testifying in front of a dozen or more committee members who at any point can be disinterested, confused, hostile, or supportive. We are still awaiting the outcome of some of these bills, but I want to offer my sincere thanks to all of those who got involved. The time you spent on efforts to shape the laws so that we can better advocate for our clients is much appreciated.
MDC’s judicial selections committee was just as active. Marissa Trasatti, Robert E. Scott, Jr., Tim Hurley, Katherine Lawler, and other MDC members devoted many hours to vetting new judicial candidates to ensure that we have the strongest bench possible. The candidates we deem most qualified may not always get selected, but our members take great care to ensure that MDC’s endorsement only goes to those candidates who have shown their commitment to fairness, justice, and objectivity. Thank you, judicial selections team. Your work is noble.
Our appellate practice committee, led by Richard Flax, Dwight Stone, and Chris Heagy, facilitated an amicus brief (written by members Gardner Duvall, Danielle Marcus, and Peter Sheehan) that led to a pivotal Court of Appeals decision, Beall v. Holloway-Johnson, 446 Md. 48, 130A.3d 406 (2016). This case redefined how “malice” must be proven in connection with a request for punitive damages in civil cases. This is the kind of landscape-changing work MDC is so proud to offer, and I cannot thank the brief-writing team enough for the time they dedicated to this important project.
And speaking of pride, I have to thank and congratulate our programs and sponsorship committees – most notably Colleen O’Brien, Chris Lyon, and Jhanelle Graham – for their work with the MDC Trial Academy, which was held on April 18 at the University of Baltimore School of Business. This program just keeps getting better and better, and this year we saw a fully integrated curriculum that tied the large-group demonstrations directly to the small-group skills training. The small groups were led by experienced civil defense lawyers volunteering their time to help our newer attorneys become their best. There’s a reason we won the Maryland State Bar Association’s “Best Service to the Bar” Project Award last year. If you are looking to practice your courtroom skills and haven’t attended the Academy yet, give us just one day of your time next year when we do it again — I don’t think you’ll regret it!
I could go on and on about the great work our members are doing, but, well, your time is valuable, so I will wrap it up by saying this: Although my time as MDC President is almost up, I look forward to many more years as an active member devoting my time and effort to these important ventures. I hope you will get involved, too; the reward is well worth your time.
K. Nichole Nesbitt
President, Maryland Defense Counsel