Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Services Saturday for Retired Judge Walker, Dead at 83
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Services will be held in Bishop Saturday for retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge J. Kimball Walker, who died April 17 of a heart attack at age 83.
Walker was a Los Cerritos Municipal Court judge from 1976 to 1980 and a Los Angeles Superior Court judge from 1980 to 1992, and continued to sit in the Los Angeles court and in other courts by assignment after his retirement.
He was a native of Casper, Wyoming, and graduated from high school there in 1942. He attended the University of Wyoming for a year and Minot State University in North Dakota for a year prior to World War II, when he enlisted in the Navy Reserve.
After the war was over, he enrolled at the University of Wyoming Law School, where his classmates included a future Wyoming governor, Ed Hershler, and famed trial lawyer Gerry Spence.
He came to California as a Justice Department lawyer, eventually becoming chief trial attorney for the Claims Department of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for what was then the Southern District of California, prior to the creation of the Central District.
He left government service in 1953, opening a solo practice in Bellflower, specializing in condemnation proceedings—at the point in the county’s history when farmland was being converted to freeways and tract housing. He also served on the Bellflower City Council from 1962 to 1974, including service as mayor from 1964 to 1965.
He was appointed to the Los Cerritos Municipal Court by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 1976 and elevated by Brown to the Superior Court in 1980. His 12-year tenure on the Superior Court was spent entirely at the Norwalk courthouse, and he served as Southeast District supervising judge in 1983 and 1984.
After reaching the age at which he could retire with maximum benefits, he became a member of the first group of judges to take advantage of a change in state law allowing retired judges to sit on assignment without a reduction in their pensions. He told the MetNews at the time that he was grateful for the option because he did not want to “stay home and bore my wife to death.”
Walker had both civil and criminal assignments while on the Superior Court bench. One of his more controversial matters was the trial of three men accused of killing an undercover Fullerton police detective when he arrived to complete a previously negotiated drug deal.
Although the defendants were convicted and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole, in accordance with the jury’s verdict, Walker and some of the police officers involved in the case exchanged strongly critical comments, with the judge at one point holding the partner of the slain officer in contempt of court.
Saturday’s services will be held at First United Methodist Church, 205 N. Fowler St. in Bishop, at 2 p.m.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company