Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, August 22, 2003


Page 1


Ceremony Honoring Late Hollis Best Draws Crowd of Over 500 in Fresno


From Staff and Wire Service Reports


Over 500 attorneys, judges, friends and associates gathered in Fresno yesterday to honor retired Fifth District Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Hollis Best, who died Friday at 77.

Speakers at the “celebration of life” ceremony included current Fifth District Presiding Justice James A. Ardaiz, Senior U.S. District Judge Robert E. Coyle of the Eastern District of California, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence O’Neill, also of the Eastern District.

Best, who had served since 1994 as magistrate at the U.S. District Court in Yosemite National Park, died at a Fresno hospital of complications from cancer, Coyle announced last week.

At the gathering yesterday, Ardaiz called Best “a man of substance in a world that gives little thought to principle or moral introspection.”

He added:

“Many of the judges in the valley would acknowledge that they owe him some part of their career for his encouragement and advice. I am sure there are many people outside the legal profession who owe him the same. I am proud to say he was my friend.”

The gathering took place at Pardini’s, a Fresno reception hall.

After the event, Ardaiz told the MetNews he had seen judges in attendance from all over the San Joaquin Valley and Northern California.

“Everybody that was anybody in the legal community was there,” Ardaiz said. “He was really a loved figure in this community.”

Best was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 1984 and became the Fifth District’s presiding justice in 1990.

In a statement, Chief Justice Ronald M. George called Best “an exceptional judge and wonderful person,” and said he “will be deeply missed by all those who knew and worked with him.”

Best earned his law degree from Stanford University in 1950 and became a Fresno deputy district attorney in 1951. He spent 20 years in private practice before being appointed to the Fresno Superior Court in 1973.

He served on that court until 1984, including several terms as presiding judge.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Jeanne Best, four children and several grandchildren.

Coyle said last week that cases in the park will now be handled by Fresno judges who will take turns presiding at the courthouse in Yosemite Valley until a replacement is named.


Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company