Retired Justice Campbell ‘Sandy’ Lucas Dies at Age 80
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Campbell “Sandy” Lucas, who retired as presiding justice of Div. Five of this district’s Court of Appeal in 1991, has died at age 80.
Lucas, the brother of retired California Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas, was Div. Five presiding justice for just under three years. He previously served for more than three years on Div. One.
He was named to both posts by then-Gov. George Deukmejian, with whom he and he brother practiced law in Long Beach. He died Tuesday after a battle with cancer.
Deukmejian said yesterday of Lucas that California’s citizens were “very fortunate that he chose to serve the public in the judicial branch.” The former governor noted that Lucas trained as an engineer at Caltech in Pasadena before embarking on an education in the field of law, and said that training influenced his approach as an attorney and jurist.
“This carried forward into his legal career in that he was very meticulous and precise in his work on behalf of first clients and then later trying cases,” Deukmejian explained. “He was always very thorough and comprehensive in his work and eminently fair and objective. He had an outstanding reputation for honesty and integrity and always sought to arrive at a just and fair result.”
Since his retirement, Lucas had been doing private judging. Chief Executive Officer Steven Davis of Alternative Resolution Centers in Los Angeles said Lucas continued working actively with the firm until February, when his deteriorating health forced him to withdraw from a case he was handling.
“He was a really fine, talented, a very decent man,” Davis said, adding that in the field of private judging Lucas became “like a standard which you could measure yourself against.”
The retired justice “had an ability to listen to both sides” and lawyers “always felt that they not only got a good hearing from him but he was very thorough,” Davis commented.
Retired Court of Appeal Justice Herbert L. Ashby, also an ARC panelist, said he first met Lucas when both were Los Angeles Superior Court judges.
“He was a wonderful colleague,” Ashby said, adding that Lucas was “one of the most collegial people you’ll ever meet” and “very unpretentious, hardworking, an absolute straight arrow.”
Ashby recalled serving as master of ceremonies at Lucas’ retirement luncheon. The jurist, he said, left the appellate court soon after it moved to its current quarters in the Ronald Reagan Building.
“In fact, I don’t even think he picked a chambers,” Ashby said.
Justice Fred Woods of Div. Seven, who also practiced law with Deukmejian in Long Beach, recalled that he took over some of Lucas’ cases when Lucas was named to the Superior Court by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1970. After his own appointment to the bench, Woods said, he served for several months as a pro tem member of Div. One while Lucas was there.
“I think I would describe him as really a paradigm legal person,” Woods declared, adding that while Lucas “had a conservative bent to him” he was “a conservative with an open mind.”
Div. One Presiding Justice Vaino Spencer said she has fond memories of her service with Lucas during his time in that division, calling it in the mid-1980s a “dream court.” They also worked closely together on many Superior Court committees, Spencer said.
“He was a very precise person but a very gentle person” who also cared deeply about the staff members with whom he worked, Spencer said.
Presiding Justice Norman Epstein of Div. Four said yesterday Lucas was “as good as they get.” As a jurist, Epstein said, Lucas would “give you a good considered call.”
The justice added:
“He was thorough, smart.”
Presiding Justice Roger W. Boren of Div. Two, who is also the court’s administrative presiding justice, noted that Lucas served in that role from mid-1989 until his retirement. The letter of appointment came from his brother, Boren pointed out.
Boren said his first encounters with Lucas came when Boren served as a pro tem member of Div. One. The jurist made a point of stopping by the chambers assigned to Boren to give him encouragement, Boren recalled.
“He was a very kind and thoughtful man,” Boren said, adding:
“He was a legal scholar. But he balanced it against what was the correct thing to do and the just thing to do.”
As administrative presiding judge, Boren said, Lucas was well-liked. “He was good at holding people together and getting them to pull together,” the justice explained.
Current Div. Five Presiding Justice Paul A. Turner, who succeeded Lucas, said he came to have great respect for the jurist when Turner was a lawyer and Lucas a Superior Court judge hearing civil cases.
“He was a wonderful, wonderful man,” Turner said. “I am very saddened by his death.”
Turner noted that Lucas was an infantryman who was wounded “within minutes” of the start of the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944. He recalled hearing Lucas recount his experience as an assistant machine gunner whose platoon leader and machine gunner were killed in the first burst of fighting.
Lucas, Turner said, continued firing until his ammunition ran out but was badly wounded and captured by the German forces. He later escaped, Turner explained, but was recaptured briefly before being liberated by U.S. forces and returned to the United States.
He was awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster.
Like other prisoners of war he has known, Turner said, Lucas was “not troubled by events” in civilian life.
“One thing you really learned by being around Sandy is not to be troubled,” the presiding justice observed.
Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert of Div. Six called Lucas “a person that really fits the definition of a gentleman and a scholar.”
“He was extremely thoughtful and reflective, very patient, a very good listener, and civility seemed to be one of his prime characteristics.”
Though they might have disagreed over issues of court policy during their time on the appellate court together, Gilbert said, Lucas was “always calm, he would listen to all sides of an issue and discuss it rationally, and he treated lawyers the same way.” He earned a reputation for being a jurist who “probed the issues deeply before making a decision and never acted in a hasty or impetuous manner,” Gilbert commented.
Lucas was born in La Jolla and attended high school in Long Beach. He earned his undergraduate degree from UCLA and his law degree at USC.
In 1990 he authored the opinion for Div. Five in Long Beach Unified School District v. State of California, 225 C.A. 3d 155, holding that the state Constitution required reimbursing the district for the costs of undertaking state-mandated desegregation efforts.
He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Lucas, and three children. A private funeral and memorial service are planned.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company