Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, April 29, 2005


Page 1


Retired Superior Court Judge Franciscus Dies at 79


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mortimer G. Franciscus has died at age 79 after a lengthy illness.

Franciscus, who passed away Wednesday, was a Pasadena Municipal Court judge from 1969, when he was appointed by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, until 1985, when he was elevated by then-Gov. George Deukmejian.

He was challenged for election only once, in 1980. He once described the experience as a “nightmare,” although he won 75 percent of the vote.

He retired from the Superior Court in 1989 and became a private judge, sitting at the Compton courthouse as part of a program designed to try civil cases at a time when all of the judges in the courthouse were preoccupied with priority criminal cases. Franciscus had been a criminal trial judge and civil settlement judge at the same courthouse prior to retirement, while his municipal court experience was largely in a high-volume misdemeanor court with an emphasis on drug and drunk driving cases.

The Pasadena native graduated from Occidental College and USC Law School and was admitted to practice in 1953. After a short stint as a tax attorney with Union Oil Co., he joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, where he worked in the lands division and developed an expertise in eminent domain, a subject on which he later wrote and lectured.

He was also involved in the revision of the law on evidence in condemnation cases.

He left the government and was in private practice in Pasadena from 1957 until he was appointed a judge. In a newspaper interview, he attributed his appointment to the political influence of his mother, a longtime Republican activist.

He often described himself as a judicial conservative and a believer in victims’ rights. “My constitutional philosophy is somewhere to the right of Torquemada,” the head of the Spanish Inquisition, he once told a reporter.

Information on funeral services was unavailable late yesterday.


Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company