On the Record

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Carry on, specially assigned judge

Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr.

Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr.

As reporter Anamika Roy was working on her story in Thursday’s paper about a disbarred lawyer, I asked her who wrote the Court of Appeals opinion.

“Harrell,” she said. “He starts off with a quote.”

She had me at “Harrell,” of course.

It seems Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. might have reached the mandatory retirement age but he still brings it in his opinions.

The aforementioned disbarment opinion opens with an “anonymous old adage”: “Saying that something is so does not make it so necessarily.”

As Anamika also noted in her story, the court denied the ex-lawyer’s exceptions to the trial court findings.

“We shall not re-imagine Respondent’s exceptions, but rather, like the proverbial Summer rule of golf that directs that one play the ball where and as one finds it, we shall treat largely her exceptions ‘as is,’” Harrell wrote.

Naturally, this launched me into a Harrell-opinion wormhole. In January, the judge began an opinion about the Maryland Department of the Environment’s air testing practices with the lyrics at the start of the Kansas song “Dust in the Wind.”

He continues:

Would Kansas’s song have made it to No. 6 on the “Billboard Hot 100” and achieved Gold Record sales status in 1978 had listeners understood that the dust in the wind may have contained arsenic, hexavalent chromium, hydrogen chloride, dioxins, and mercury, as we learn from the controversy before us, a case involving the emissions to the air from the operation of a crematorium?

Going back to last year’s reported opinions, Harrell went philosophical in a zoning dispute in December:

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? This ancient metaphor, conceived originally as a mock example used to discredit medieval scholastic philosophy, but deployed here with non-satirical intent, is an apt segue into this opinion. Based on the parties’ positions regarding the flagship question in the present case, we imagine the answer Appellants would give to the philosophical query would be “one,” while Appellees would respond likely with “a lot more than that.”

Most importantly, and I’m ashamed I didn’t immediately report on this in October, it was Harrell who wrote the Court of Appeals opinion in the case about the profane vanity license plate.

“What does Petitioner, John T. Mitchell, have in common with ‘Seinfeld’s’ Cosmo Kramer?” Harrell began.

He explains in a footnote.

“In “Seinfeld” (Episode 107 (27 April 1995)), Kramer was sent erroneously vanity plates bearing the words “ASSMAN,” which plates had been applied for by a proctologist,” he wrote.

Dr. Howard Cooperman would approve.

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