Judge Joseph S. Casula

  • DIED: November 28, 2014
  • LOCATION: College Park,, Maryland

Retired County Circuit Court Judge Joseph S. Casula, described by colleagues as a brilliant and well-respected judge in Prince George's County, died Friday November 28,2014 from complications of diabetes. He was 80.
Judge Casula presided over many cases, some controversial, including the 1988 case of Jane Bolding, an ICU nurse charged with the murders of three patients at Prince George's Hospital Center. Bolding was accused of injecting critically ill patients with lethal doses of potassium chloride. In the months leading up to the trial, Judge Casula threw out Bolding's confession due to police misconduct ruling that "There are simply no shortcuts around the Constitution." The case went to trial and was largely based on statistical evidence placing Bolding at the hospital when the people died. After 5 weeks of testimony, Judge Casula dismissed the murder charges against Bolding citing the statistical evidence was not enough for a conviction in the case. "It would create a mathematical quagmire," he said at the time.
"What a courageous and difficult decision that was for him," said his close friend and colleague, retired Judge Howard Chasanow. The high profile case was also featured in the 2005 book "Tales From The Morgue" by Cyril Wecht, MD, JD, Mark Curriden & Angela Powell. While the case earned him the nickname, 'Let 'em go Joe,' it only cemented his reputation among colleagues as being a thorough, fair, and dauntless judge in the courtroom.
United States Magistrate Judge Tim Sullivan served as Judge Casula's law clerk during the trial. "He had a love of the law and even though he knew his decision would be unpopular, it was in his DNA to do the right thing," Judge Sullivan said.
He left an indelible mark during his tenure. In the September 1996 issue of "Washingtonian" magazine, Judge Casula was ranked as one of the "Best of the Bench" judges. Calling him the "Dean of the Prince George's County bar," the article featured Judge Casula as "far and away the best-liked and most admired judge on the Upper Marlboro bench."
His friend Judge Chasanow agreed. "He was so conscientious, exceedingly bright, had good instincts and was very driven and dedicated to his job," said Judge Chasanow. "He was also the most universally liked person I have ever known."
Judge Casula also loved to talk politics and was incredibly well-read, according to longtime friend and practicing attorney Joe Sullivan. "He was always citing various cases and could recite them right down to the page number."
Retired county clerk Kathy Cooke worked with Judge Casula for 16 years. "He was somebody that could relate to anybody, from any walk of life. He had no airs about him, what you saw is what you got," Cooke said.
After graduating from Catholic University Law School in 1959, Judge Casula served in the US Army and went on to work as law clerk to Judge Charles C. Marbury, Court of Appeals, 1961-1962. Admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1962, he served as an attorney for several cities in Maryland including Bowie, Landover Hills, and Capitol Heights and the Town of Morningside. He also served as Prince George's County Attorney 1973-75 and as Attorney for Prince Georges County Housing Authority from 1975-1980. In 1980, he was appointed Associate Judge for the District Court of Maryland, District 5, Prince George's County and in 1985 he was appointed to the Prince George's County Circuit Court, 7th Judicial Circuit. Following his retirement in 2001, Judge Casula worked in mediation and arbitration for more than 10 years.
During his distinguished career, Judge Casula had a steadfast devotion to his family and friends. He doted on his many nieces and nephews and also treated his courtroom colleagues like family. Often, after hearing of someone needing something, he would show up with the item. In the courtroom, Judge Casula always wanted to help others, finding ways to offer a piece of advice for someone who was in difficult situation. He was a giver, and rather than accept gifts for himself, he would encourage others to give to those less fortunate.
Family and friends also loved his wry sense of humor. He was quick to joke, serious when needed, while also exuding compassion and generosity.
The son of Italian immigrant parents Christopher Casula, a coal miner, and Frances Casula, a homemaker, Joseph Salvatore Casula was born in Shenandoah, Pa., the youngest of 11 children. When asked to name a place from his childhood that held a special memory, Judge Casula responded, "growing up in a happy home in Shenandoah." He attended J.W. Cooper High School in Shenandoah and later Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md. At a recent family reunion, he reminisced about one of his happiest childhood memories: "Attending the 1946 double header at Yankee Stadium between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red socks where I saw Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams play." His passion for sports carried on into adulthood. Baseball and football were much loved topics of conversation, especially when talking about the Baltimore Orioles or the Washington Redskins.
Judge Casula was preceded in death by his sisters Anne Casula, Antoinette Addazio, Mary Romig, Jeanne Casula and his brother, Frank Casula, former Mayor of Laurel, Md. Judge Casula is survived by two sisters, Michalene Chabon and Patricia Casula, sister-in-law Etna Casula, niece Frances Addazio, nephews Christopher Casula (Andrea) and Patrick Casula (Lesley), many grandnephews, grandnieces and many great-grandnephews and great-grandnieces.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in his name to St. Hugh's Parish in Greenbelt, Md., Divine Mercy Parish, Shenandoah, Pa, or The American Diabetes Association.

  • December 03, 2014
    7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
  • Donaldson Funeral Home, P.A.
  • 313 Talbott Avenue
  • Laurel, MD 20707
  • (301) 725-1690
  • Get Directions
Funeral Mass
  • December 04, 2014
    10:00 AM
  • St. Hugh of Grenoble Catholic Church
  • 135 Crescent Rd.
  • Greenbelt, MD 20768
  • Get Directions
  • December 06, 2014
    10:30 AM
  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cemetery
  • Shenandoah, PA
  • Get Directions


“ A dear friend---a painful loss. j. lawton ”

Posted by: A friend

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