Monday, April 8, 2002
Judge Mark Brandler Remembered as ‘Legendary’ for High-Profile Cases
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The late Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Brandler was recalled Friday for having presided over some of the best-known criminal cases of a turbulent area.
Brandler died last Tuesday at age 92 and was laid to rest Friday.
“He was legendary for some of the high-profile cases that he had,” his stepson, Chief Justice Ronald M. George, told the MetNews, “especially the ‘Onion Field’ case.”
Brandler, who was a member of the court from 1958 to 1969 but sat on assignment for several years afterward, sentenced Jimmy Lee Smith and Gregory Ulas Powell to death for the kidnap-murder of Los Angeles Police Department Officer Ian Campbell. Campbell was shot to death in a Kern County onion field, hence the sobriquet applied to the case, as well as the book and film that chronicled it.
The pair were spared the death penalty after their convictions were overturned based on the emerging law involving failure to advise suspects in custody of their rights to silence and to counsel.
Brandler, who had nearly 200 of his decisions reviewed in published opinions of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of California, “was a major figure in the development of the law,” George said.
The jurist was a graduate of Brooklyn Law School in New York. He followed a brother to California and was admitted to practice here in 1935.
He was appointed to the Superior Court by the late Gov. Goodwin Knight. He had previously served on the Los Angeles Municipal Court, to which he was appointed by the late Gov.—later U.S. Chief Justice—Earl Warren.
Among his other high-profile cases were the murder trial of William T. Kozel, a lawyer who shot at his estranged wife, striking and killing a male whose home she was visiting. Brandler, who heard the case as an assigned Ventura Superior Court judge, reduced the charge from first to second degree murder and the conviction was upheld on appeal.
He also presided over the trial of Eloise Popeil, convicted of soliciting the murder of her husband, wealthy Chicago businessman/inventor Samuel J. Popeil, and that of Dr. Marvin Phillips, a Los Angeles chiropractor whose conviction of second-degree murder for advising the family of a cancer patient to refuse consent to an operation was overturned due to a faulty jury instruction.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company