Morton A. Sacks, a retired trial lawyer and former Maryland assistant attorney general, died of heart disease Aug. 29 at Baltimore Washington Medical Center. The Linthicum resident, who lived for 40 years in Bolton Hill, was 74.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Lochearn, he met his future wife, Marylou Botten, at Milford Mill Junior High School.
"We sat next to each other in the eighth grade," she said. The couple went on to graduate from Milford Mill Senior High School in 1956. After service in the Army, Mr. Sacks worked as a captain's assistant aboard merchant ships sailing out of Baltimore. He also worked at a pet shop in Woodmoor and drove a cab to help pay his tuition at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Mr. Sacks was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1963 after his graduation from the University of Maryland School of Law.
He initially set up a private practice in downtown Baltimore in the old Tower Building.
"Morton was a brilliant trial lawyer. In the bar exam, he was second from the top," said a longtime friend, C. Raymond Hartz, a retired attorney who lives in Timonium. "He was probably the most tenacious lawyer I've ever known. He was always highly prepared for a trial and would burn the midnight oil to assure himself that he would be ready."
He then worked under the city state's attorney, William J. O'Donnell. One of his first assignments was helping to try the case against the defendants charged with the attempted assassination of Sen. Verda F. Welcome, who represented West Baltimore. She was the first African-American woman to be elected to the Maryland Senate and was wounded as she entered her car on Liberty Heights Avenue in 1964. Two men were convicted of the crime.
In 1965, he became an assistant Maryland attorney general. Family members said he did legal work with the Maryland State Police, the Department of Corrections and other agencies. He represented the state penitentiary's warden.
In 1968, Mr. Sacks became a trial lawyer and partner at Cable, McDaniel, Bowie & Bond in the Blaustein Building on Charles Street.
"He was a wonderful trial lawyer. He had all the requirements. He was particular and well prepared," said a former colleague, John E. McCann, a retired attorney who lives in Lutherville. "No one ever surprised Morty Sacks. He was a master at discovery. He was very quick on his feet in court. He knew how to examine witnesses. In his prime, he was one of the best trial lawyers in the state."
He retired from another law firm, McGuire, Woods, Battle & Boothe, nearly a decade ago.
Family members said he handled litigation for Crown Central Petroleum and American Trading and Production, as well as Westinghouse Electric, Budweiser and the McCall Coal Co.
He was also involved with the Exxon Valdez case, the tanker that ran aground and discharged oil off Alaska in 1989. He represented a company that made the ship's gyroscope.
Family members said he enjoyed taking lengthy summer camping vacations and touring U.S. and Canadian national parks with his wife and children. He also traveled extensively through Alaska by auto. He read numerous mysteries and works of history. He was an avid Orioles and Ravens fan.
Mr. Sacks was also a private air pilot. He flew out of the Essex Skypark and belonged to the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Services will be held at noon Wednesday at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, Maple and Camp Meade roads, Linthicum, where he was a member.
Survivors include his wife of 51 years; two sons, Scott Sacks of Elkridge and Jonathan Sacks of Washington, D.C.; a daughter, Pamela Ouaou of Naples, Fla.; a sister, Myra Shapiro of Jacksonville, Fla.; and four grandchildren.