MARYLAND LAW & POLITICS
Timothy F. Maloney talks ’70s politics, civility among lawyers,
and having a gun pointed at his head
INTERVIEW CONDUCTED AND EDITED BY ERIK LUNDEGAARD
Q: You were with the Maryland General
Assembly from ’79 to ’95.
A: I was. I was elected at the age of 22.
Q: And your father was involved in
politics but not as a politician?
A: Well, no. He worked for Sam Ervin’s
subcommittee on constitutional rights.
He was in the JAG Corps, which is why
I was born in France. And he was an
administrative law judge with the National
Labor Relations Board [NLRB].
But when I retired from public office,
he decided to run for county council. I
took him out to do some door knocking,
which he hadn’t done in 20 years; and
he ended up winning by 38 votes. One of
our local columnists called him “a block
off the old chip.”
He was elected in ’94, the year I retired,
and he was re-elected in ’98. He tragically
died in office in 2001. A car accident. He
had a heart attack, we think. But he was
a very independent reformer, a great
lawyer—as was my grandfather, a Harry
Truman Democrat. In fact, my grandfather
grew up in Missouri, and was a friend and
contemporary of Harry Truman. And when
Harry Truman was elected to the U.S.
Senate, Truman brought my grandfather
to Washington, summer of 1937, for a
temporary appointment. He never left.
Q: Did he ever work for President
A: He served as commissioner on something
called the Bituminous Coal Commission,
which today would be FERC: Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission. After his
term ended, he had a very unusual practice
area: He started representing Potawatomi
Indians in claims for land that had been
expropriated by the federal government.
These claims were all over the country:
Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas. If you Google
him, you can see some of the old records in
these cases. With the Irish name “Maloney”
people don’t suspect it, but I am one-thirty-
second Potawatomi from my grandmother’s
side. We are descended from the Indian
princess Madeline Bertrand. I have the
same amount of [Native American] blood
as Elizabeth Warren, running for Senate
from Massachusetts, who’s in all the trouble
Q: Is that why your grandfather
developed that niche practice?
A: I think that was part of his interest. That
was my first exposure to the law: going
into his basement, which would be filled
with thousands of documents and maps
and ancient records; and then going out
west with him and my father to meet with
Indian leaders, watch these claims being
adjudicated. There was no such thing as
a speedy trial before the Indian Claims
Commission. These cases went on for 10,
15, 20 years. And when my grandfather
died in ’ 67, my father, my poor father as a
young lawyer, had to take on some of these
cases to bring them across the finish line.
He did those even throughout the late ‘60s
and early ‘70s.
My dad was a labor lawyer. After working
for Senator Ervin, he worked for NLRB,
and one of his first big cases was The
Baltimore Sun newspaper strike. He would