The School of Law community mourns the loss of Adjunct Professor Robert T. M. Phillips, who died April 18th after a long battle with myelofibrosis. He was 62.
Professor Phillips began teaching at UM Carey Law in 1996. He was also an adjunct associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and a lecturer and former assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. This semester, he was co-teaching the Mental Disability and Criminal Law Seminar.
Professor Philips was the medical director for Forensic Consultation Associates, Inc., which specializes in psychiatric consultations in civil and criminal litigation, and counted the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Secret Service among his regular clients. He was also frequently enlisted by Stephen Bright of the Southern Center for Human Rights to evaluate the mental status of death row inmates.
Phillips was a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and served as its deputy medical director from 1993 to 1998. He was also a former president of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, and worked as a special consultant to Jack Valenti, former president of the Motion Picture Association of America, when that organization was helping to develop a national television content rating system.
Phillips' professional success, wrote Ezra Griffith, M.D., "flow[ed] from a reputation honed by tenacious connection to a moral view of his work." In his 2005 profile of Phillips for The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, Griffith recalled how, as a young state administrator, Phillips resisted institutional pressure to spin an investigative report about a death that had occurred in a state hospital, despite "provoking the ire of his superiors," and hastening the end of his tenure. Lawrence Fitch, with whom Phillips co-taught for 19 years, says that throughout the long and prosperous career that followed that difficult moment, "his moral compass never deviated" and "his commitment to social justice endured."
Robert T.M. Phillips was born and raised in New York City. He attended Boston College, where he was vice president of the Undergraduate Government, and an active member of Black Talent, a group that advocated for campus diversity. After earning his B.S. in biology and psychology, he moved on to Harvard University where he earned a Master of Education with a concentration in administration planning and public psychology. He earned an advanced graduate studies degree in basic medical sciences at Tufts University School of Medicine, received a Ph.D. in science education from the University of Iowa, and an M.D. from the Mayo Medical School. He specialized in psychiatry during his residency at the Yale University School of Medicine, and served as chief resident in psychiatry.
He is survived by his wife, Ana Maria Phillips; his children, Nicole, Tiana, Spencer, and Alex; his sister, Denise Warner; and his nephews and grandchildren.