Answers For Mass Gun Violence

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To many the answers for mass gun violence land squarely on the shoulders of the decreasing moral compass of a secular world pushed by mass media, academia and the entertainment industry. It is as if every man does what is right in his own eyes  and as is prophesied in the Bible it leads to death. See The Holy Bible King James Version. Judges 17:6.


Recently my local newspaper, The Capital Gazette , published a guest article mainly about guns and violence . The author, Rev. Stephen Tillett, was trying to explain and understand the reasons for the terrible tragedy of the Violent and Senseless Killing of Five Capital Gazette Employees – even though it is probably a futile venture to explain an irrational violent event with reason and logic.


The columnist attributes the violence to several factors including the traditional – mental illness, enhanced bump stocks, automatic weapons of war among others. But then expands his theory to ” one groups different values against another’s’ – domestic terrorism is his theory. Apparently, it is his theory that this one group against another group syndrome is attributable to – “that it was outsiders from Europe who came to the “new world” and committed genocide against millions of indigenous persons already living here. And now those outsiders deign to claim “insider” status and want to keep everyone else out … at the point of a gun, if they have to.”

My view is quite different based on my 50+ years as a criminal defense lawyer (15) and Circuit Court Judge (36+) and the changing demographic culture in which I and my family have lived. During this time many different groups and cultures have successfully assimilated with each other. I was born and raised in College Park, MD in 1942 and grew up in segregated schools. My father was a professor at the University of Maryland. I am married and have three children all products of the Prince George’s County Public Schools and now, gratefully, 5 grandchildren.

After attending the University of Maryland (BS-1964) and American University Washington College of Law (JD- 1967), I traveled out to the rural Prince George’s County Circuit Court to clerk for Judge Ralph W. Powers in sleepy Upper Marlboro , Md – the Prince George’s County Seat (1970 Pop. 650,000 – 2017 Pop 910,000)


When I was appointed in 1982 as the 13th Judge, there was 1 African American Judge. There are now 24 judges and 6 are white. In 1999 I completed my 15 year term and I moved to Anne Arundel County and took the status of Senior Judge where I sit every Wednesday in the Anne Arundel Circuit Court and 4 days a month in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County.

As a criminal court lawyer and judge, I have presided over tens of thousand sentencings’- reading a detailed report of the background of each individual to be sentenced. 98% of the individuals have broken homes, drug and alcohol abuse and crime recidivism – even the violent gun related offenders.There is rarely evidence in the reports which points to any religious or spiritual activity. Over my 50+ years there are very few in the criminal court who escape the patterns of a broken family led astray  by a secular worldview.


The one pattern that leads to the successful escape from those deadly worldly patterns is the Gospel of Jesus Christ – that Gospel of Love that transcends the battles of generational bitterness and lack of forgiveness, restores families and leads to a peace “that passes all understanding”. You see the Gospel provides me forgiveness of my sins and offenses, but requires me to forgive the sins and offenses of my neighbors. If these lessons and the Commands of Christ  are shared around the kitchen tables of our homes, progress will be commonplace. A wise bible teacher once said – “Please be patient with me, God is not finished with me yet !”

Over the last 50 years as biblical values have been systematically removed (even ridiculed) from the public dialogue, schools, government – legislators, governors, judges and the workplace – the violence has exponentially accelerated. It is time for our leaders to dramatically change course and return to the Gospel of Jesus Christ – to speak of its transforming power in every conversation. As the plaque that President George H.W. Bush gave his Pastor says – “at all times Preach Christ , if necessary use words”
In this Holiday Season that is why the CENTER of Merry Christmas is CHRIST.

Oh My Aching Back ! Tension Myositis Syndrome – TMS

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Oh My Aching Back !

Tension Myositis Syndrome – TMS

One of the most frequently tried personal injury case before a jury is the muscle strain to the neck or back which does not respond to traditional medical treatment and get better in 10 to 16 weeks. The plaintiff continues to have severe recurrent episodes of pain and goes through extensive diagnostic testing and pain management protocols and is still left with the same severe recurrent episodes of pain. All diagnostic testing is negative for permanent injury and the pain management protocols while providing temporary relief – the episodes continue to recur. It is not uncommon for the medical bills to total in excess of $30,000 and treatment to extend over several years. The plaintiffs usually are sincere individuals and family, friends and co-workers attest to the debilitating effect of the recurrent episodes of pain and changed life style of the plaintiffs. Yet juries rarely compensate these injured individuals more than several times medical expenses and frequently render verdicts of medical specials only. I have experienced these results in trials conducted in my court room well over 100 times. Typically the defendant has a highly qualified orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon testify that there are no objective tests which would support a casual connection between the accident and the plaintiff’s complaint of pain. To make matters worse for the injured plaintiff they are left with these painful conditions for perhaps the rest of their life. They feel tremendously let down by the system of justice and lawyers and many times become very bitter.
This same scenario troubled a young New York City orthopedic surgeon in the 1960’s – Dr John E Sarno. Dr Sarno then began a lifelong quest and study to provide help for these individuals. His study led him to a new medical diagnosis – Tension Myositis Syndrome or TMS. Basically this diagnosis was a recognition that tension is a cause of muscular pain. It should be noted that this diagnosis is distinguished from hypochondria and a purely psychological disorder. Thus while TMS is induced by an emotional phenomena it is a physical disorder. The muscles and tissues actually spasm and therefore cause pain. The medical community has difficulty recognizing and making the diagnosis. The psychologist may suspect that the patient’s symptoms are emotionally induced, but is untrained in physical diagnosis. On the other hand since very few orthopedic physicians are trained to recognize a disorder whose roots are psychological, TMS ″falls through the cracks″ and patients go undiagnosed. This leaves the patient vulnerable to being labeled – that the pain is ″all in the head″.
The lawyer then has an opportunity to help his client even though the system of justice seems to have failed by directing his client to TMS resources. After all the first objective of a lawyer is to make sure the clients gets the best possible medical care.
Fortunately, Dr Sarno has written several books and trained a subsequent generation of physicians – most notably Dr. David Schechter – who are capable of providing treatment for this perplexing and frustrating condition. Still, broad acceptance in the medical community does not exist and many individuals are ″left standing at the altar″ by the medical community. In the thousands of cases which I have evaluated and listened to testimony at trial I have yet to read or hear of a TMS diagnosis or referral. At best a physician will suggest that psychological counseling might help.
TMS treatment generally consists of a two pronged approach:

  1. The acquisition of knowledge and insight into the nature of the disorder.
    2. The ability to act on that knowledge and thereby change the brains behavior.

Dr Sarno suggests the following steps.

  1. Think psychological not physical. With good reason this is possible since the medical community has run all of the tests and concluded that there is no physical disorder. So why then does the pain not immediately disappear?
  2. “pity me that the heart is slow to learn – What the swift                mind beholds at every turn” ( last two lines of a         poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay)
  3. Talk to your brain.
    3. Resume physical activity.
    4. Discontinue all physical treatment
    5. Review the daily reminders.
    6. The pain is due to TMS, not a structural abnormality.
    7. The direct reason for the pain is mild oxygen deprivation.
    8. TMS is a harmless condition caused by my repressed emotions.
    9. The principle emotion is anger.
    10. TMS exists only to distract my attention from my emotions.
    11. Since my back is basically normal there is nothing else to fear.
    12. Therefore, physical activity is not dangerous.
    13. And I must resume all normal physical activity.
    14. I will not be concerned or intimidated by the pain.
    15. I will shift my attention from the pain to emotional issues.
    16. I intend to be in control – not my subconscious mind.
    17. I must think psychological not physical at all times.

The Mind Body Perscription
Here is a list of study resources that are a must.
See the Links at the Bottom of the Page

The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain by John E. Sarno M.D. (Paperback – Oct 1,
The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders by John E. Sarno (Paperback – Mar 27, 2007)

Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by John E. Sarno (Paperback – Feb 1, 1991)

The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain by John E. Sarno (Kindle Edition – Mar 15, 2001) – Kindle Book

The MindBody Workbook by David Schechter M.D. (Plastic Comb – Nov 1, 1999)
The MindBody Audio Program by David Schechter (Audio CD – April 15, 2001)
New Title 1 (The MindBody Workbook) by MD David Schechter (Kindle Edition – Jul 15, 2008) – Kindle Book
The MindBody Workbook with Patient Panel DVD by David Schechter (Plastic Comb – Oct 1, 2004)

Maryland Jury Verdict Report

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Maryland Jury Verdict ReportJury2

I am pleased to provide current Jury Verdicts in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s County. You will find below the verdicts for recent months in 2015.

Prince George’s County

2015 PGCC Verdicts

Anne Arundel County


2015 AACC Verdicts

I have done my best to provide complete information but I need your help in correcting inaccuracies and filling in absent information. If you know of other verdicts from around the State send me the information and I will post them. All verdicts can be found on MontyAhalt.com by clicking here.

As many  know I have been tracking verdicts since the late 1980’s in an effort to help counsel and litigants understand the risk of actually trying a case.Trying to figure out what six folks ( the jury) will do in a given case might seem impossible to some. However, tracking and studying results in similar types of injuries or liability types does reveal patterns. It is understanding those patterns and applying them wisely which leads a wise settlement rather than a disappointing trial.

Please feel free to pass this report along to your colleagues. I plan to periodically update the report so if you know anyone who would like to receive the information please tell them to send me an email requesting the report.

You can book your next mediation or arbitration with my online calendar – click here

Contact Judge Arthur M. Monty Ahalt (Ret.)

National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals – MdMediators.org

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The National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals is pleased to announce the launch of its Maryland Chapter – the “Maryland Academy of Mediators & Arbitrators” (MAMA) – online at www.MDMediators.org. 

Just 8 attorneys and former judges have been recognized as Charter Members of the Maryland Chapter, including most of the state’s most widely-accepted ADR professionals. The MD Chapter has an appointed Executive Committee which includes 3 leading local ADR practitioners: Jonathan Marks (Bethesda), Judge Steven I. Platt (Annapolis) and Sean Rogers (Leonardtown). 

Include the availability of the following neutrals:

 All Maryland Calendar Members



Non-Calendar Members:

The Academy’s new website is designed to “make life easier” for local attorneys, counsel, adjusters and legal support staff. www.MDMediators.org allows firms to quickly find a suitable neutral by identifying preferred practice criteria or dispute types, navigating straight to a roster of trusted local mediators and arbitrators. A majority of the Academy’s members also publish their availability calendars online for the benefit of clients. This allows the selection of a neutral and the scheduling of appointments to be greatly expedited for all parties involved. 

MDMediators.org is connected to the Academy’s national www.NADN.org database, already in wide use by attorneys across more than 30 state bars, including Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, New Jersey, the Carolinas, Tennesse & Texas.

In 2013, NADN was named Neutrals Database Partner to the national defense bar association (DRI) and the national plaintiffs bar (AAJ, formerly ATLA), providing these association’s 40,000+ litigators with vetted biographies of the nation’s top-rated mediators and arbitrators, via the DRI and AAJ websites. Only ADR professionals widely respected by local defense and plaintiff firms are invited to submit bio materials for review by NADN and state committees. 

“We’re delighted to welcome these top-rated neutrals to form the Maryland Chapter of the Academy,” commented Darren Lee, Executive Director of NADN. “We’re confident that the NADN database will prove as useful to litigation firms in Maryland as it has to other state bar communities in recent years.”

The National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals (NADN) is an association whose membership consists of mediators and arbitrators distinguished by their hands-on experience in the field of civil and commercial conflict resolution. As of June 2014, the association has over 900 top-tier ADR attorneys and judges confirmed as members in each of the 50 states, making it the largest free online roster of vetted civil mediators and arbitrators in the nation. Membership to the Academy is by invitation-only, with a strict peer-nomination vote and extensive client-interview vetting procedure, intended to ensure that only the top 5-10% of civil ADR practitioners in each state are invited to join the association. For more info, please see www.NADN.org/about

For further info regarding the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, please contact Rose-Anne Raies (roseanne@nadn.org) or visit www.NADN.org/about

THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF DISTINGUISHED NEUTRALS 104 Churchill Way, W. Palm Beach FL 33411 • Tel: (813) 600-5678 • Fax: (866) 257-4698 • www.NADN.org

In-Depth Biographies and Calendars Now Available At www.MDMEDIATORS.org

National Member Directory online at www.NADN.org/directory

March 2012- In Memorium Chief Judge William H. McCullough 1926-2012

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March 2012- In Memorium

Chief Judge William H. McCullough  1926-2012

By Judge Arthur M. Monty Ahalt (Ret.)

William H. McCullough, 86 who was Chief Judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit. He was County Administrative Judge of the Prince George’s County Circuit Court from1975 until 1992. He retired at age 70 in 1995, died, after a brief illness on February 16, 2012 at his home with his family in Seat Pleasant. He had Pulmonary Fibrosis. Judge McCullough served the residents of the county for over 50 years as a lawyer and judge. A graduate of the George Washington Law School in 1950 he began practicing law with his father “Doc” McCullough in Mt. Rainier, Maryland with the firm of McCullough, Pace and McCullough. As a lawyer he was a lifetime member of the Prince George’s Bar Association and instrumental in the formation of the Prince George’s County Legal Aide Society. He Represented the Prince George’s County Liquor Board.

He is survived by his wife Violet and his children, Aimee, Bill, Jr. (Anne), and Mary Beth Bates (Marty); seven grandchildren, Kristin, Joshua, Ben, Luke, Connor, Claire and Sophia; one great grandchild, Jacob; and his brother Richard (Minette).

In 1969 he was appointed as a Circuit Court Judge and elected to a 15 year term in 1970 and a second term in 1986. History records him as the 34th judge in the 7th Judicial Circuit. As a circuit court judge he handled numerous high profile cases , but history will remember him for serving on the panel of Judges that disbarred former Maryland Governor and United State Vice President Spiro Agnew.

Judge McCullough is most remembered as the “Quiet Leader” of the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland and the 7th Judicial Circuit ( Prince George’s,Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties). As the County Administrative Judge and Circuit Chief Judge, he successfully managed the growth of a court serving the 600,000 + residents of the county from 9 judges in a 50,000 square foot building to 20 judges in a 400,000 square foot multi-court complex with over 25 court rooms. A steady stream of judges, county officials and lawyers made their way to his Chambers seeking his wise counsel and leadership. Judge McCullough was never one to insist on being addressed as “Judge” and would always encourage folks to just call him Bill- except in the court room, of course.Socially, Bill and his wife Vi were sought after company for their joy of life and friendship. Bill earned his title of “twinkle toes” and “ol’blue eyes” while a child and in the Navy, but those traits followed him to the courthouse.

Judge McCullough was a mentor and teacher to his less experienced colleagues on the court and members of the bar – especially his law clerks of whom he took great pride. His law clerks – now all very successful lawyers and leaders themselves are – Jo Benson Fogel, Esq. 1969/1970; Alan Edward D’Appolito, Esq. 1970/1971; James G. Nolan, Esq. 1971; Thomas R. Callahan, Esq. 1972/1973; R. Brooke Bortner, Esq. 1974; Iris Aberbach, Esq. 1976/1978; Richard E. Schimel, Esq. 1978/1979; Andrew R. Polott, Esq. 1979/1980; Claudia Z. Springer, Esq. 1980/1981; Mary Eno, Esq. 1981/1982 ; Samuel J. DeBlasis, II, Esq. 1982/1983 ; Gregory K. Wells, Esq. 1983/1984 Kenneth F. Eichner, Esq. 1984/1985; Christopher Costabile, Esq. 1985/1986; Josephine Lynch, Esq. 1986/1987; Michael A. DeSantis, Esq. 1988/1989; Rita Kaufman Grindle, Esq. 1989/1990; John A. Bielec, Esquire 1991/1992; Melissa Ann Miller, Esq. 1992/1993; John T. Bergin, Esq. 1993/1994; George R. H. Johnson, Esq.1994/1995.

Remembrances of some of his clerks; Sam DeBlasis II – “Law school taught me the basics about the law but Judge McCullough established for me a foundation to be a lawyer, a good lawyer”; Jo Benson Fogle – “My stories of his wonderful sense of humor masked when necessary by his perfect judicial demeanor, his ability to deliver a 20 page opinion with findings of fact in full grammatically correct sentences from the bench with 1 page of notes, and his ability to raise the level of performance in whatever his endeavors, always come back to something about me and what I observed.”

Upon his retirement Judge McCullough was provided a book celebrating his service and life and authored by Bill Butler the Court Administration Facilities Manager. In that book some of his colleagues comments reflect his everlasting impact on the court, the bar and the community.

Judge Jacob S. Levin( Ret.) – “The only thing I never understood about him – and this comes as a complete mystery to me- is that here is a man who has fought in our Fighting Navy during World War II and yet doesn’t believe in any type of cursing. Every time I would use a four-letter word in his presence, I either got a look or an admonition.”

Judge C.Philip Nichols – “ I’ve had the honor and privilege to practice before Judge McCullough and to have the opportunity to sit with him as a judge of this court. He’s always brought the best of temperaments, the keenest of intellects and good judgment to every case he was assigned. I especially remember his kindness to me as a young lawyer in an extremely difficult rape case that I tried twenty years ago as a defense attorney. He was generous enough to remind the jury that a lawyer has a high calling, and the professional obligation to fully represent the interests of a party before the court no matter how difficult the facts.”

Judge Darlene G. Perry (Ret.) – “ Bill McCullough, as a lawyer, enjoyed a reputation for his honesty, his kindness,his collegiality and his hard work on behalf of his clients. As a judge he was emulated by all of those aspiring to be a judge and was a diffuser of controversy, voice of reason, and a leader by all who came in contact with him. Bill McCullough enjoys life. He loves a party. Quick to laugh, he doesn’t let a bad back stop him from dancing or playing golf. He has a quick wit and the ladies refer to him as “Ol’ Blue Eyes”and “Twinkle toes”, probably because of that ever-present charm and his dancing ability.”

Judge Steven I. Platt ( Ret.) – “The things I learned from Judge McCullough – His humor; his warm personality;his ability to see through almost every situation and get to the heart of it and understand what motivates people; and the ability to apply the law in a common sense manner that takes into account both the effect of the law, and what the judge does, on the people before him.”

Judge Richard H. Sothoron, Jr. ( Ret.) – Consistency was always a strong suit of Judge McCullough’s in that his rulings were fair, his impartiality unrefuted and his dedication to the role of a Judge unquestioned. As a lawyer and a judge his temperament was that of a considerate and well mannered counselor whom the entire bar respected. And it was this respect that set him apart form others.

I remember Bill McCullough, the lawyer , as a principled lawyer. He wouldn’t make an argument on the law unless the law clearly supported it. He wouldn’t make an argument on the facts unless the facts clearly supported it. He would not cut corners to achieve a result for his client. He had a clear concept of justice, of fairness, truthfulness and credibility…and he made his clients conform. If they fell short of it, well, he’d help them deal with the consequences;but he would not change his advocacy to conform to their shortfalls.He was the glue that held together families , the communities and the people he represented. Good judges are made of good lawyers and good lawyers are made of good people.