The following appeared in the September 21st edition of “The Barrister,” a publication offered by the Howard County Bar Association. The article can be found here.
Since joining the Howard County Circuit Court bench early this year, Judge John Kuchno has hit the ground running. Taking the oath of office on January 7, our newest judge was immersed in intensive orientation and judicial training.
But within a few weeks, he was on the bench, rendering decisions. He has now presided over many jury and non-jury trials, as well as numerous domestic and family law hearings, and issued rulings in literally hundreds of cases, covering the full scope of legal issues our circuit court considers every day.
Judge Kuchno came to the court with 34 years of outstanding and wide-ranging legal experience. His background is exceptional, with the perspective of private practice experience in large and smaller law firms, as in-house counsel, and as a public servant in the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. Most recently, as a member of the Attorney General’s elite Civil division, he served as lead counsel in some of the highest profile and significant cases facing the state.
He worked with and against some of the best lawyers and law firms in the state and the country, and tried cases in state and federal courts. For several years, and at the time he assumed the bench, Judge Kuchno received the highest peer review ratings for legal ability and ethics by the MartindaleHubbell® Law Directory – AV® Preeminent™ 5.0 / 5.0.
Included in his noteworthy cases, Judge Kuchno represented the University of Maryland and its top administrators in the contentious litigation regarding the university’s departure from the Atlantic Coast Conference for the Big Ten. For nearly a decade, he was the attorney for the State of Maryland, the Governor, and executive agencies in multiple cases arising from the $1.6 billion State Center project in Baltimore. He helped secure multimillion-dollar recoveries for the State in litigation concerning alleged procurement overcharges by the largest telecommunications providers.
In another cutting-edge case, he served as lead counsel in litigation concerning the death of a student-athlete as a result of injuries sustained in a football practice at a state university.
Prior to his time in the Civil division, Judge Kuchno was litigation and trial counsel for the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System. He held responsibilities for securities, complex commercial, and multiparty litigation. His work included the evaluation of pending and potential class action and opt-out litigation. In that role, he directed lead-plaintiff activities in the nationwide class action litigation securities fraud case against Toyota Motor Corporation in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
Before joining the Maryland Attorney General’s office, Howard County’s newest judge enjoyed a widespread and varied private practice career. His clients were similarly diverse, including, among others, multi-national corporations, small and local businesses, insurance companies, health care providers, and individuals. The law actually represents a second career for Judge Kuchno. Initially an award winning journalist, the Judge held various broadcasting positions, including newscaster, correspondent, writer, editor, and producer, in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.
He began working for Mutual Broadcasting System immediately following his graduation summa cum laude from the University of Maryland College Park. He later was employed as a free-lance correspondent and reporter for Associated Press Radio in Washington, covering Capitol Hill, while performing as an on-air newscaster during weekends and holidays at WFBR Radio in Baltimore.
At one point, he worked literally every day for eight consecutive months without a day off. Subsequently, Judge Kuchno took a position with WCBM in Baltimore as a newscaster, reporter and producer. Then-journalist Kuchno covered local and state politics, breaking news, and sports.
But it was coverage of newsworthy and important trials that whetted the Judge’s appetite for a legal career. He attended law school at the University of Maryland at Baltimore while employed full-time in radio. Upon graduation, he left broadcasting behind, took the bar exam, and began work one week later at the venerable firm then-known as Piper & Marbury.
He subsequently worked for two other Baltimore firms and as in-house counsel for a Fortune 100 corporation, where he held responsibilities in the management of high exposure litigation in the Midwest, Rocky Mountain states, and Alaska.
A member of our Howard County Bar Association, Judge Kuchno has also served in leadership positions for the Bar Association of Baltimore City and the Maryland State Bar Association. He was a panel member and chairman of Inquiry Panels and Peer Review Committees of the Attorney Grievance Commission for more than 25 years. He also served as a subcommittee chairman and officer for an international product standards making organization for a similar period. On the personal side, Judge Kuchno has been married to his wife Vicki for 35 years and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. His son played baseball collegiately at Ohio State University and professionally for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
The Judge has lived in Howard County for more than 34 years. And although his law practice took him not only to Howard County but to all parts of Maryland, as well as around the United States, Judge Kuchno says he has found his most fulfilling, rewarding and challenging legal work a few miles from home in Ellicott City. He is honored to serve as Associate Judge of the Circuit Court for Howard County.
Welcome to the bench Judge John Kuchno!