Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Services Friday for Retired Judge Victor Barrera, 65
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Services will be held Friday for retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victor Barrera, who died Saturday at age 65 after a battle with cancer.
Barrera was a judge for nearly 20 years, first serving on the Los Angeles Municipal Court and then on the Superior Court. He retired in March of 1999 to do private judging, and colleagues said he continued working in that field until about three months ago.
He was appointed to the Municipal Court by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 1979 and elevated in 1981. For most of the last decade of his judicial career, Barrera was assigned to the Long Beach courthouse.
Judge Joseph Di Loreto, who took over Barrera’s courtroom when he retired, said the judge “fell into his niche” handling a civil calendar in Long Beach after a variety of assignments with the court. Barrera turned out to have a knack for working out settlements, often working late into the night with opposing lawyers to hammer out details.
“He was very good at that,” Di Loreto declared, adding that the experience prepared Barrera well for a successful retirement career in arbitration and mediation.
Di Loreto said he and several colleagues had lunch with Barrera earlier this year in San Pedro. Though Barrera was weakened and knew his condition was terminal, he refused medication that might have prolonged his life but would have prevented him from working, Di Loreto said.
He added that Barrera told him the most difficult aspect of his condition was saying goodbye to friends.
Barrera was born in New Mexico, but grew up in Los Angeles and earned his undergraduate and two law degrees at USC. He was directing attorney of the Legal Aid Foundation in Long Beach for four years before joining the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office under Evelle Younger as a community relations specialist.
His duties for Younger included a weekly show on the Spanish-language Los Angeles television station KMEX. After Younger was elected state attorney general in 1972, Barrera moved into the courtroom and spent seven years as a prosecutor.
In 1981 he told an interviewer he had been reluctant to remain with the office after Younger’s departure because the prospect of trying criminal cases did not appeal to him. He took a three-month leave of absence before telling Younger’s appointed successor, Joe Busch, he would stay, Barrera said then.
In 1978-79, Barrera was vice president of the Mexican American Political Association, and during the 1981 interview he attributed his appointment to the bench by Brown to his service in that role.
Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Dukes recalled yesterday that he served with Barrera when both were deputy district attorneys under then-District Attorney John K. Van de Kamp.
“His role was to mentor calmly the young attorneys in the office,” Dukes remembered, adding: “He was somebody who did not get ruffled.”
Barrera was a chess player and had an academic bent, helping while on the court to edit a textbook on economics for lawyers and judges which was used nationwide, Dukes said. The presiding judge also cited Barrera’s unusual abilities as a settlement judge.
“He prided himself on being able to resolve disputes, lending his abilities in both analysis and insight in settlement conferences as well as mediations,” Dukes commented.
Lucie Barron, president of ADR Services, Inc., the firm which employed Barrera after he left the bench, called him “very popular and very much in demand” as an arbitrator and mediator.
Barron said services for Barrera will be held Friday at 10:30 a.m. at Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church at 870 West 8th Street in San Pedro. A reception at a nearby restaurant will follow, she said.
Barrera is survived by his wife, Sharon.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company