City’s top defense attorney, Jim Anthenelli, remembered

Remembering Jim Anthenelli brought tears to his friend Jim Otway’s eyes.

“He was a wonderful, wonderful man,” said Otway, a lawyer who was once in practice with criminal defense attorney Anthenelli, who died at home Tuesday at age 64.

“I don’t think you can ever get tired of admiring someone like that. Working with him was such an incredible learning experience,” said Judge Kathleen Beckstead, who called Anthenelli a teacher and mentor who was highly organized and detail oriented.

Beckstead was a partner with him from September 1988 until 1996.

“He was the best, most wonderful mentor. He was a real model for how to practice law,” she said, and he knew when to be assertive.

“It was just magic watching him practice from the judge’s bench. He was very poised and well prepared. He was deadly in terms of being well prepared,” she said.

Anthenelli, a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law, practiced about 40 years. A resident of Millsboro, he and his wife, Monica, had two children, Michael and Elizabeth.

He was recognized as one of the top 5 percent of lawyers in Maryland and was on the Maryland’s Super Lawyers list from 2009 to 2013.

Beckstead said Anthenelli prepared those who cared about him for his death, giving them updates about his health and putting their concerns above his.

Attorney John Phoebus, Anthenelli’s law partner since January, called him a gentleman.

Many emulated his demeanor and ability to keep his temper, he said.

“Jim would just fill a courtroom with his presence. The spotlight in the room turned to him because of his charisma and his poise and polish,” Phoebus said.

Otway called him “a consummate professional and an excellent trial attorney.”

“He was extremely well respected by other lawyers, by law enforcement and the courts,” he said about Anthenelli, a native of New Jersey.

Away from work, they were friends and, Otway said, often laughed together.

“Oh, he had a wonderful sense of humor,” Otway said.

“He was one of the funniest people I ever met, without a doubt.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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