NORRISTOWN – After spending 21 years putting killers and rapists behind bars, the fighter for justice with a reputation for being “a gentleman” and a legal expert is ready for a new career challenge.
Montgomery County Deputy District Attorney Christopher M. Maloney recently stepped down from the prosecutorial job he’s held since 1992 to take a job with a civil litigation firm in Philadelphia.
“It’s the best job you could ever imagine. You work side-by-side with men and women of such integrity who are committed to doing the right thing for the community. You get to see the best and the worst of humanity and you get a shot at giving someone a chance at justice,” said Maloney, reflecting on two decades as a prosecutor. “Having the opportunity to give victims that shot at justice, and making sure the case is as well-prepared as possible so that they have their shot at justice, has been among the most gratifying experiences of my life.”
Colleagues, who during a recent farewell gathering celebrated the career of the charismatic prosecutor known for his strong work ethic and extraordinary sense of humor, described Maloney as a tireless advocate for victims who is well-respected by defense lawyers and judges.
“His strength as a prosecutor is that he is so well-rounded. He is likable and reliable. Jurors and judges appreciate his work and they trust him,” said District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman. “He’s got an incredible ability to persist at things and I think persistence is one of his hallmarks. I think that persistence really made him an outstanding prosecutor.”
Ferman said Maloney’s “calm demeanor” and “incredible sense of humor” will be missed around the office.
“You can’t panic when you’re doing this job. We’re dealing with serious situations, often deadly situations, and it would be very easy for someone to lose their cool, to panic over things, especially when things are going wrong. But Chris had this really wonderful ability to stay calm in the middle of chaos. He taught others how to do that,” Ferman said.
“Chris is always a gentleman. Chris will be remembered here as a great litigator, a man who has made a difference in the lives of countless citizens in Montgomery County and in the lives of his co-workers,” added First Assistant District Attorney Kevin R. Steele.
Deputy District Attorney Thomas W. McGoldrick has known Maloney for 15 years and through work forged a friendship. McGoldrick regards Maloney as “one of the very best trial attorneys” to ever come through the busy prosecutor’s office.
“He’s a natural when it comes to public speaking and making an argument before a jury. It comes naturally to him and his preparation of a case is unmatched,” said McGoldrick. “When I think of Chris I think of someone with a great sense of humor, the highest ethics and a great amount of talent.”
As Maloney, joined by his wife and two daughters, posed for photographs with colleagues and answered a reporter’s questions on his last day in the office, his popularity wasn’t lost on one of his daughters who quipped, “Daddy looks famous.”
Maloney, 46, is headed to the Philadelphia law firm of Ross Feller Casey, a firm that represents the catastrophically injured, where he’ll continue to fight for victims.
“I wanted to go into an area of the law that would be as similar as what I’ve been doing. I’ve been representing crime victims for the last 20 years,” said Maloney, indicating his new job suits his interests in helping victims. “I’d be representing the same types of people, the vulnerable, the powerless, the people that otherwise would be disregarded, that need someone to stand up and advocate for them.”
Those who worked with him said Maloney was approachable, always willing to lend advice and answer the questions of fledgling prosecutors who looked to him as a mentor.
“After watching Chris Maloney try a case in court I knew I wanted to be a prosecutor,” said Assistant District Attorney Jason Whalley, who met Maloney six years ago as a young intern in the prosecutors’ office. “He’s an exceptional prosecutor when it comes to courtroom demeanor and courtroom presence. The way he conducted himself in court and presented the case and how he acted in front of the jury was one of the smoothest I’d ever seen.”
Domestic violence prosecution unit leader Wallis Brooks, who worked with Maloney in the pre-trials division early in her career, called Maloney an “outstanding” legal expert.
“You could always count on him for expert legal advice. His knowledge of the law is superb but he combines it with a terrific personality. He is funny, outgoing…truly loved by everybody,” Brooks said. “His attention to detail when he’s prepping a homicide case is phenomenal. His questions and his trial prep notebooks are legendary.”
As chief of the pre-trials division, Maloney trained most of the current crop of prosecutors. They recalled watching him prepare for trial, reading and writing everything down, making sure he knew every detail about a case before entering a courtroom.
“You learned a lot just by watching him in the courtroom,” said Colleen McIntyre, a prosecutor for 3 ½ years who currently works in the sex crimes unit. “He taught us to always be confident. If anyone needed to describe Maloney in trial it would be ‘smooth, cool and smooth.’”
Maloney was hired by former District Attorney Michael D. Marino in 1992 and then worked for former District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. and Ferman, the current district attorney.
“Mike gave me my shot. I never forgot that. I will be forever in his debt for giving me that opportunity and I really tried to make the most of it. I understood the importance of this job and I was fortunate enough to work with really fantastic people who were equally as invested in the idea of doing the right thing,” Maloney said.
Maloney still remembers the first case he lost as a prosecutor and the advice of his mentors, former prosecutors turned defense lawyers Thomas C. Egan III and Timothy Woodward, who taught him that, “you can’t let the setbacks deter you, that you have to continue to get up and push forward.”
“That was the greatest lesson,” Maloney said. “You do the best job you can and if it doesn’t work out you got to dust yourself off and get right back up, or as I’ve heard others say, ‘Lose your case, bring me the next sinner.’”
While he’s looking forward to the “new adventure and new opportunity,” Maloney said it is difficult to leave the prosecutor’s office.
“It’s bittersweet because I’ve been here so long. The office is so a part of my life,” Maloney said as he left the courthouse as a prosecutor for the final time.
Follow Carl Hessler Jr. on Twitter @MontcoCourtNews