Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Superior Court Judge Forneret Retires
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
After serving almost 28 years on the bench, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rodney G. Forneret has retired at the age of 65.
Although Forneret had been on medical leave for several months, court officials said he did not request disability retirement. His last official day was Dec. 5.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John V. Meigs said that Forneret “had always said he was going to work until his youngest daughter graduated from college,” although Meigs claimed “I tried to talk him into working longer.”
Forneret’s daughter graduated from Yale University in June, Meigs said, and shortly thereafter, Forneret was diagnosed with leukemia and went on leave.
Meigs credits Forneret as the one who encouraged him to pursue criminal law and to go on to the bench. Even though he and Forneret have been friends for over 40 years, Meigs maintains that Forneret was “the same way with everyone,” and “served as a mentor to lawyers and judges throughout his career.”
He praised Forneret as “an all around good person,” who “is the sort of person everyone cares about.” Since Forneret has been out on leave, Meigs said hundreds of lawyers and judges have been calling, sending cards and praying for Forneret’s recovery.
Forneret’s retirement plans will probably involve focusing on his family and his health, Meigs predicted, and taking advantage of discounted matinee movie prices. “He’s a real movie buff,” Meigs claims.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Eudon Ferrell praised Forneret, who ran the early disposition processing and felony arraignment court at the Inglewood Courthouse, for working well with “both sides of the table” to obtain settlements and prevent the other courtrooms from being “flooded” with cases.
It takes “a really unique judge” to handle the courthouse’s “feeder position” Ferrell opined, and to do it without being accused of favoring either the prosecution or defense.
But Forneret “had that ability to get along with everyone and be accepted as a competent and effective administrator,” Ferrell said. “He’s left a pretty big spot to be filled.”
Forneret “always had a kind of booming voice,” Ferrell added. “I don’t think you actually needed to put a microphone on the bench.”
A native of New Orleans, Forneret earned his undergraduate degree in political science from what is now California State University Los Angeles in 1966, after which he served two years in the Air Force.
He later attended Loyola Law School and joined the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office upon his graduation in 1974.
In 1979 he entered private practice, setting up the criminal defense offices of Wilson & Forneret in Compton.
The next year, Forneret became a commissioner in the Compton Municipal Court, and the year after that he was appointed to the Inglewood Municipal Court by then-Gov. Jerry Brown.
Forneret served four terms as presiding judge before being elevated to the Superior Court by unification in 2000.
He was one of fthe ounding members of the California Association of Black Lawyers, and served as vice chair and secretary-treasurer of the Presiding Judges Association, which became defunct after the municipal and superior courts unified.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company