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The MSBA joins Maryland’s legal community in mourning the loss of renowned jurist, Judge Joseph H.H. Kaplan, who passed away on January 5, 2022, at the age of 85.  

Judge Kaplan served as Administrative and then Chief Judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City for more than 30 years.  In the 1980s, he led the State of Maryland through a period of uncertainty caused by the Savings & Loan Crisis, and presided over multiple insurance company receiverships. 

Judge Kaplan was a leader and problem solver in other areas. His professional home was in public service. In that arena, Judge Kaplan helped negotiate a settlement to increase the art collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art, was instrumental in allowing the Camden Yards development to move forward, and was an early proponent of adoptions regardless of sexual orientation.  

The much beloved judge was known as a kind, compassionate man who treated everyone with respect and dignity.  

Judge Kaplan received his college education at Johns Hopkins University and his law degree from the University of Chicago, where he was editor of the University of Chicago Law Review. Prior to his time on the bench, he served as Law Clerk to Chief Judge Frederick W. Brune, Maryland Court of Appeals and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.  

Judge Kaplan also served the country in the U.S. Army, U.S. Army National Guard, U.S. Air Reserve, and U.S. Naval Reserve.  He was a member of the J. Dudley Digges Inn, American Inns of Court since 1986 and served as President in 1990-91.  

Maryland State Bar Association is grateful for Judge Kaplan’s service to the organization, where he served on the Board of Governors and was a longtime member of the Administrative Law Section Council.  

Services for Judge Kaplan will be in the spring.  Contributions are being accepted in his memory for The Baltimore Courthouse and Museum Foundation, c/o Robert Gaumont, Esquire (Treasurer), Gordon Feinblatt, LLC, 1001 Fleet Street, Suite 700, Baltimore, Maryland 21202.