Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, March 31, 2008


Page 1


Services Thursday for Senior U.S. District Judge Rafeedie


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Services are scheduled for Thursday for Senior U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie, who died Tuesday at the age of 79.

The cause of death was said to be prostate cancer, complicated by diabetes.

Thursday’s service, open to the public, will be held at 10 a.m. at St. Monica’s Catholic Church, 725 California Ave., in Santa Monica. Burial will be private, the judge’s clerk said.

The court is expected to hold a memorial service at a later date.

A native of New Jersey, he came to California with his family in the 1930s. He worked from early childhood, at one point becoming a “carnie,” managing game booths in traveling carnivals.

He once told a reporter that while the carnival was “a big world to a young boy,” he lost interest in it after serving in the military during the Korean War and went to Santa Monica City College and then to at USC, where he earned his undergraduate and law degrees.

He practiced civil and criminal law in Santa Monica, serving as the first chairman of the Santa Monica Bay District Bar Association indigent misdemeanor panel—reportedly the first in the country—in 1962 and as president of the association in 1968 before being appointed by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan to the Santa Monica Municipal Court.

He was elevated by Reagan in 1971 to the Los Angeles Superior Court, where he heard a number of celebrity cases. He was appointed to the U.S. District Court by President Reagan in 1982, took senior status in 1996, and continued to hear cases until December of last year.

His best known case may have been that of Humberto Alvarez-Machain, a Mexican doctor abducted from his office and brought to the United States, where he was charged with complicity in the torture and murder of Enrique Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent. The physician allegedly kept Camarena alive while he was being interrogated under torture, but Rafeedie granted a motion for acquittal, saying the government’s case was speculative.

Rafeedie had earlier dismissed the charges, saying the manner in which the defendant was brought to this country violated an extradition treaty with Mexico. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, but the U.S. Supreme Court reversed based on century-old law allowing a court to exercise criminal jurisdiction over any person before it, regardless of how the person came to be within the court’s territory.

Rafeedie also heard some important cases by designation outside the district, including litigation over Indian tribal shellfish harvest rights in Washington state and a case involving corrupt judges, two of whom he sentenced to federal prison for mail fraud, in San Diego.

Survivors include the judge’s wife, Ruth Alice Horton; son Frederick Rafeedie, a Los Angeles attorney; and daughter Jennifer Rafeedie. The family asked that any memorial donations be sent to the American Cancer Society.


Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company