Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, August 22, 2005


Page 1


James D. Ward to Retire From Court of Appeal


By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts


Justice James D. Ward of the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s Div. Two said Friday he will retire Oct. 31 to become a private judge.

Leaving the “enormously collegial court” is “kind of a bittersweet thing,” the 69-year-old jurist told the MetNews. But the opportunity to concentrate on dispute settlement is enticing, he said.

“I love doing that more than almost anything else,” Ward said, citing his role in Div. Two’s acclaimed settlement program. The flexible scheduling afforded by private judging also fits with his plans to spend more time writing on both legal and non-legal subjects, he said.

“It has been a wonderful relationship, as good as I’ve ever had in the law business,” he said of his dealings with the other justices. “But there are new horizons out there.”

Ward added that he has not yet signed a contract with a private judging firm.

Jury Instructions

He also hopes to remain involved in the process of reviewing and revising jury instructions, he said. Ward served as vice chair of the Judicial Council’s Task Force on Jury Instructions, which won a national award for its “plain English” civil instructions and whose criminal instructions are on the path toward adoption by the council.

His role in that process helped Ward win the Judicial Council’s 2003 Jurist of the Year Award for contributions to state court administration.

The justice will be honored at a special session of the court Oct. 5 at 3:30 p.m. at the courtroom in Riverside. “The entire court laments the loss of an esteemed colleague and friend, but we celebrate Justice Ward’s unique life and distinguished career as lawyer and jurist,” Presiding Justice Manuel A. Ramirez said in a statement.

Ward has been a lawyer and judge for 45 years. After graduating from the University of South Dakota in 1957 and the University of San Francisco School of Law in 1959, he joined the Riverside District Attorney’s Office for a year before become a partner in the law firm of Badger, Schulte & Ward.

Won Twice in High Court

He left there to join Thompson & Colegate, a major Riverside firm where his clients included the Riverside Press-Enterprise. He represented the newspaper twice in successful arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in cases dealing with openness of court proceedings.

He was at the Thompson firm from 1964 until 1993, when then-Gov. Pete Wilson appointed him to the Riverside Superior Court. Wilson elevated him to the Court of Appeal in April 1996.

He was named later that year by James Towery, then president of the State Bar, to head a committee assigned to review the practices of the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation in the wake of criticisms of the panel’s “not qualified” rating for state Supreme Court nominee Janice Rogers Brown and the unauthorized leak of the rating prior to Brown’s confirmation hearing.

Among the panel’s recommendations was one that would have allowed a representative of the governor to sit on the commission’s otherwise-closed deliberations. The idea went nowhere, however, and a recent effort to revive it was rejected by the Board of Governors.

As an appellate justice, Ward authored 43 published opinions and hundreds of unpublished ones, sitting on thousands of panels. He also sat on the California Supreme Court earlier this year, joining in a unanimous ruling that federal law bars California from applying its conflict-of-interest standards for contractual arbitrators to securities arbitrations, which are governed by less-stringent guidelines adopted by the National Association of Securities Dealers with the approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ward and another justice sat on the case in place of Chief Justice Ronald M. George and Justice Marvin Baxter, who also sit on the Judicial Council, which adopted the California standards.


Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company