Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Retired Judge and Rancher Alan Ellis Dies at 63
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Alan E. Ellis, a retired judge who sat by assignment on the Los Angeles Municipal Court for over 20 years while working his Idaho dairy ranch six months out of the year, has died at the age of 63.
Richard Christensen, a former San Fernando Valley lawyer and friend of the jurist, told the MetNews he died in Indian Valley, Idaho on July 4 after a difficult battle with Pick’s disease, a type of dementia.
A memorial celebration of his life is planned for Oct. 7 in Indian Valley.
Ellis was a Los Angeles native who grew up in West Los Angeles. His family said he developed an early love of outdoor activities, including hiking, horses, skiing and the beauty of nature, and developed a passion for photography, studying with the legendary Western photographer Ansel Adams.
After graduating from Los Angeles High School and UCLA, where he majored in economics, he went on to the University of Santa Clara, where he completed his law degree while teaching economics at De Anza College in Cupertino.
After graduating law school, he divided his time between a private practice in Los Gatos and De Anza, where he ran the school’s Administration of Justice program from 1973 to 1975. He also authored a criminal justice textbook, In re Justice, published in 1974.
In 1975, he left Santa Clara County for rural Tuolumne County, where he became Sonora city attorney. In 1976, he won election as a justice court judge.
In August 1982, however, he officially retired from the bench and began an arrangement that would last until 2002, spending six months of each year milking cows and bailing hay on the 250-acre Idaho property and the other six months hearing cases—primarily traffic violations—at the Van Nuys and Metropolitan courthouses in Los Angeles.
“During his life’s journey he was a sheriff, a horse-logger, a lawyer, a writer, a photographer, an educator, a patient and enthusiastic mentor, a dairyman and hay farmer, a city manager, a judge and a friend to all,” his family said in a statement. “He treated everyone with kindness and respect.”
He is survived by his wife, Kathy Woltring O’Neill; his sons Eric and Andrew Ellis; brother Terry Ellis; and three grandchildren.
The family suggested that memorial donations be made to the Guide Dogs of America, Sylmar, California or the Indian Valley, Idaho Fire Department in care of Thomason Funeral Home, 221 E. Court Street, Weiser, ID 83672.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company