Services Set for Judge Jean Matusinka, 67
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Funeral services will be held on Friday for Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jean Matusinka, who died Monday at the age of 67.
The cause of death was lung cancer, Superior Court Judge Mark Arnold said. Arnold is the supervising judge in Torrance, where Matusinka had sat since 1990.
“She fought [the disease] tooth and nail right up until the end,” Arnold said, noting that Matusinka had worked as recently as last week. “She was just a tremendous judge.”
Matusinka “was a well respected jurist known for being decisive, fair minded, tough and compassionate,” Judge Deanne Myers said. Myers said her colleague’s illness had been diagnosed last September.
Matusinka was New York native who attended Hunter College in that city and graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1966. She came to California to join the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in 1970, after having clerked for law firms in Florida.
As a prosecutor from 1970 until 1985 she specialized in child abuse, domestic violence and sex crimes, also serving for a time in the Training Division. She was one of the prosecutors who handled grand jury proceedings in the McMartin Pre-School molestation case, which drew national publicity in the 1980s.
She was also instrumental in forming the child-abuse and domestic-violence section and the sexual-crimes program of the Central Trials Division. She spoke nationally on topics related to prosecution of such cases and taught at the USC School of Medicine’s Institute of Psychiatry, Law and Behavioral Science, where she trained psychologists and psychiatrists on how to interview defendants in connection with sexual assault prosecutions.
Matusinka helped found the Los Angeles County Interagency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect.
In 1985, she was appointed by then-Gov. George Deukmejian to the Los Angeles Superior Court, beginning her career hearing criminal cases at what is now the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles. She handled several high profile trials, including death penalty cases, one of which resulted from a Chinatown jewelry store robbery involving the death of a Los Angeles police officer and two other persons.
She switched to civil cases following her transfer to Torrance 16 years ago.
Myers said Matusinka’s interests outside the bench included travel; she took trips to Africa, the Galapagos, South America, and China with her husband of 31 years, former parole officer Dave Lytle, who survives her.
The couple resided in Rolling Hills Estates for many years.
Friday’s services are scheduled to begin at 3:00 pm at Green Hills Mortuary Chapel with internment immediately following at Green Hills Memorial Park, 27501 S. Western Ave., Rancho Palos Verdes.
Her family asked that any memorial donations be sent to the Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L Street NW, Washington DC 20037.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company