Monday, February 27, 2006
Justice Hastings Retires From Court of Appeal
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts
Court of Appeal Justice J. Gary Hastings has retired.
Hastings, a member of Div. Four since September 1993, officially ended his judicial career on Feb. 19, his 63rd birthday, but is continuing to sit on assignment.
The justice explained Friday that he agreed to a 60-day assignment in hopes that his replacement can take office without inheriting a huge backlog of work, a situation that he faced when he joined the court nearly two years after his predecessor retired.
“What triggered [the decision to retire at a relatively young age] was a wakeup call in 1998,” he told the MetNews. That was the year his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, just as their son was entering college.
He vowed then that if all went well, he would take time so that the couple, who have been married 38 years, could enjoy life together. With Diane Hastings’ illness in remission after chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, the justice said, “it’s time for me to follow up on my commitment.”
The next stage of his life, he said, will include teaching, travel, and outdoor sports. Hastings has long been involved in running, kayaking, and surfing, passions that one would expect of a Redondo Beach resident but are a little difficult to indulge while commuting to downtown Los Angeles to handle an appellate caseload, he said.
He and his wife plan to visit France this summer as part of a group led by a USC history professor, he said. After that, he will teach trial advocacy, and possibly ethics and professional responsibility, at Southwestern University on a part-time basis.
May Sit in Torrance
Hastings said he has considered private judging but is “not really committed” to it and might offer to sit on periodic assignment instead, particularly if he can return to Torrance, where he sat on the Superior Court prior to his appellate appointment.
Hastings, a Superior Court judge from 1985 to 1993, will be feted by the South Bay Bar Association March 3. He was not the first member of his family to sit on the Court of Appeal; his father, James H. Hastings, sat in Div. Five from 1973 to 1986.
Father and son were colleagues for a short time, as Gary Hastings sat on assignment in Div. Five for two months in 1986, an experience that led him to apply for the appointment that he eventually received, he said in an interview several years ago.
His father, who became a private judge after retiring from the court, remains physically active at age 88, Hastings said. His grandfather, James N. Hastings, practiced into his 90s with the Glendale firm of Hastings, Blanchard, Weiler & Kennedy and died in 1990 at the age of 104.
Gary Hastings earned his law degree in 1971 from Southwestern University, where he was editor-in-chief of the law review and graduated first in his class. He then joined the downtown Los Angeles firm of Belcher, Henzie & Biegenzahn where he specialized in business litigation until his appointment to the Superior Court.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company