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James F. Schneider, retired bankruptcy judge and historian, dies at 72

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James F. Schneider, who retired in 2017 after 35 years on the bench. (Photo courtesy of the Bar Association of Baltimore City)

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James F. Schneider, who retired in 2017 after 35 years on the bench. (Photo courtesy of the Bar Association of Baltimore City)

Retired Judge James F. Schneider, a historian of the Baltimore bar who served for 35 years on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland, died Monday night after a long illness. He was 72.

Schneider served as chief judge of the bankruptcy court from Nov. 2, 2001, to July 31, 2005.

Born in Baltimore on Nov. 18, 1947, Schneider earned both a bachelor’s degree in history and a J.D. from the University of Baltimore, graduating from the law school in 1972. He was admitted to the bar the same year and served as a law clerk to Judge Albert L. Sklar on the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City. Schneider subsequently served as an assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore from 1973 to 1978 and as general equity master for the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City from 1978 to 1982. He joined the bankruptcy court in 1982.

Schneider was the author, among other works, of “History of the Bar Association of Baltimore City,” published in 1980, and the co-author of “A Bicentennial History of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, 1790-1990,” published in 1990. He was also the co-founder, in 1984, of the Museum of Baltimore Legal History.

Thomas J. Catliota, chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland, remembered Schneider as a person of “grace and courage.”

“His passing is a great loss not only to the bankruptcy bar but to the entire Maryland legal community,” Catliota said Tuesday. “He ruled with both compassion and with a keen analytical ability.”

Ronald Weich, dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law, recalled Schneider’s love of Maryland legal history.

“He knew so much and loved to share what he knew about the long history of the Maryland Judiciary and specifically what happened in Baltimore over the years,” Weich said Tuesday. “I think that was a tremendous contribution to the legal community.”

Weich said Schneider hired many UB law students as clerks in the bankruptcy court and served as a mentor to students.

“We’ll miss him,” Weich said. “He was a really good guy.”