Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Services Saturday for Retired Court of Appeal Justice Fukuto
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Services will be held Saturday for retired Court of Appeal Justice Morio L. Fukuto, who died last Thursday at the age of 77.
The Los Angeles native retired from the Court of Appeal in 1999 He had been battling Parkinson’s disease in recent years.
His friend’s death came as a blow to Justice Robert Mallano of Div. One, Mallano told the MetNews yesterday.
“He was a wonderful man,” Mallano said. “A highly principled man, very fair, very conscientious. He never lost his temper, he was just as solid as he could be. Just a prince of a man.”
Fukuto, he explained, was “one of the stars” of the district attorney’s downtown office when Mallano joined it in the 1960s. In the 1970s and 1980s, the two served together, first in the South Bay Municipal Court and later on the Los Angeles Superior Court in Compton and in Torrance, where they took turns as supervising judge.
While Fukuto had difficulty speaking due to his illness, Mallano explained, he enjoyed the company of his friends, including a group that got together for Chinese food in the South Bay every few months.
The group, Mallano noted, including Presiding Justice Roger Boren, who served with Fukuto in Div. Two; Mallano; Div. Two Justice Kathryn Doi Todd; retired Superior Court Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki; and Fukuto’s longtime secretary, Kayko Sonoda.
Fukuto was a 1951 UCLA graduate who graduated from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1954, then served as an Army intelligence analyst from 1954 to 1956 and as legal advisor to the local office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture before joining the District Attorney’s Office in 1957.
In a 17-year career as a prosecutor, he rose to become head of central operations, responsible for overseeing all felony prosecutions in the Central District, before then-Gov. Ronald Reagan appointed him to the South Bay Municipal Court in 1974. He was elevated to the Superior Court by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 1979.
When he served on the Superior Court in Compton, his caseload consisted overwhelmingly of criminal cases. He later heard more civil cases in Torrance, and also ran the probate calendar there while serving as supervising judge in the mid-1980s.
In 1986, he was nominated by then-Gov. George Deukmejian to succeed Court of Appeal Justice Edwin Beach, who did not file for retention. He was confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, was approved by the voters, and took office on Jan. 5, 1987, serving until his retirement on Feb. 16, 1999.
Survivors include his wife, Grace Fukuto, and two daughters.
Saturday’s services are scheduled for 11 a.m. at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 961 S. Mariposa Ave. in Koreatown. The judge’s family asked that any memorial donations be made to that church or to the National Parkinson’s Foundation, which can be reached at (800) 327-4545, or to the South Bay Keiro Home, 15115 S. Vermont Ave., Gardena, CA 90247.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company