Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Superior Court Judge Francis Hourigan III to Retire
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Francis J. Hourigan III is retiring from the bench, effective April 15.
Hourigan, whose last actual working day was Feb. 29, could have retired with maximum benefits more than two years ago, but said now was “a good time to step away” and begin doing things that he and his wife had planned for his post-judicial life, including travel and spending time with their five grandchildren.
“It’s kind of nice to have a bit of free time to goof off,” he quipped.
The 66-year-old jurist is a native of Hartford, Conn., but grew up in Los Angeles. He played baseball at Loyola High School, graduating in 1960, and remains an aficionado of the sport, having recently returned from watching spring training games in Florida.
He earned an undergraduate degree at Santa Clara University and went on to what is now Loyola Law School, from which he graduated in 1968.
He joined the District Attorney’s Office in 1969, following in the footsteps of his father, Deputy District Attorney Frank Hourigan.
As a prosecutor, he had misdemeanor and felony trial assignments, ran the Huntington Park office for a time, and was legal advisor to the grand jury from 1977 to 1980. He remained with the office until July 1984, when South Bay Municipal Court judges named him a commissioner.
Then-Gov. George Deukmejian appointed him a judge of that court in October 1985 and elevated him to the Superior Court two years later.
Reflecting back on his career yesterday, Hourigan said he enjoyed being in the courtroom, both as a prosecutor and as a judge, but that the latter gave him the opportunity to “work with attorneys and jurors and affect peoples’ lives so much more” than he could as an advocate.
“It was an awesome responsibility,” but the opportunity to work in the collegial atmosphere of the Torrance courthouse—he was assistant supervising judge of the Southwest District from 2004 to 2006—made it worthwhile, he said. “There’s a certain spirit in that courthouse,” he said, not only among the judicial officers, but also the clerical staff and the bailiffs.
“A super group of people,” he commented, adding that he intends to remain in the area and will make himself available to serve on assignment, but wants to take at least six months for himself and his family first.
The job did have some drawbacks, he acknowledged, particularly when criminal defendants tried to represent themselves. “If they had a defense in their case, they seldom saw it,” and they made trying cases unusually and unnecessarily difficult, he commented.
On the whole, however, he takes a “very positive” view of judicial service, he said.
His supervising judge said he had hoped the judge would stay awhile longer.
“He was a mentor to every judge in this building,” Mark Arnold said, and “an absolute gentleman” who was “never” the subject of a negative comment.
“When he told me he was going to retire, I was really disappointed,” Arnold added. “He’s earned it, but it’s a huge loss to us.”
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company