Thomas O’Malley was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and served in combat in the Pacific in WWII. He graduated from Georgetown University and Georgetown Law School where he was taught by Edward Bennett Williams, among others. In 1954, he married Barbara Suelzer of Fort Wayne, Indiana and together they raised six children.
As a young Assistant U.S. Attorney in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia he practiced under such demanding and accomplished judges as Pine, Holtzoff, and McGuire. It was in this auspicious training ground where Tom averaged 50 felony jury trials a year as sole counsel.
After serving for five years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Tom went into private practice. In 1974, he moved his practice from the District to Rockville. Tom tried cases in almost every circuit in the state and filed the first criminal appeal in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
It was his experience in the local courts, his dedication to his community, and his conscience that led Tom to run for State’s Attorney- first in 1994 and again in 1998.
After practicing law in the county for decades, he knew that the Courts could be more efficient; that the State could work harder with better-trained and professional attorneys; and, that defendants and their attorneys should be treated with respect.
Most men in their 70’s would shy away from running just one grueling, door-to-door campaign in the summer and enjoy the life that a steady law practice and no tuition payments afforded. However, sitting in passive silence when he knew he could contribute to the quality of the Courts and his community was anathema to him. Losing never really bothered Dad--not trying, however, was a sin.
One of the most fulfilling experiences of his legal career was in teaching a law course designed for high school seniors for which he wrote his own textbook. He taught the course every spring semester at Immaculata Preparatory for fifteen years. For many years afterwards, a great many of his students from that all girls’ high school became lawyers themselves and credited his inspirational introduction.
A great deal of his practice throughout his legal life was pro bono. He viewed his practice not as a job but as a vocation, often going the extra mile to get clients to change their lives. And despite his calling trial work “a young man’s game”, he tried cases even during the last months of his life at age eighty.
He is survived by his wife Barbara and two daughters, Bridget and Eileen, as well as four sons, all of whom are members of the Maryland Bar: Martin, Patrick, Peter, and Paul.