Thursday, December 24, 2009
Justice Barton C. Gaut to Retire From Fourth District Court of Appeal in February
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
Justice Barton C. Gaut of the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s Div. Two is stepping down next year after 14 years on the bench, the Judicial Council said yesterday.
The group said Gaut will retire Feb. 28, capping a 47-year career as a lawyer and jurist in Riverside County.
Presiding Justice Manuel A. Ramirez of Div. Two said Gaut “was any presiding justice’s dream: hardworking, productive, and always available.”
He commented that Gaut “was principled but open to a different perspective, so you could always talk to him, and you knew he gave serious consideration to your point of view.”
Gaut could not be reached for comment.
Years on Bench
The justice’s 12 years on the Court of Appeal were preceded by two years as a Riverside Superior Court judge and 33 years with the Riverside firm of Best, Best & Krieger.
The Judicial Council said Gaut authored about 1,900 opinions while on the Court of Appeal, 105 of which were published. Ramirez said Gaut also ruled on hundreds of original proceedings and motions during that time.
Gaut was admitted to the State Bar in 1963 after graduating from UCLA and UC Berkeley School of Law. As a litigator, he specialized in complex civil trial and appellate litigation.
He was appointed to both the Riverside Superior Court and the Court of Appeal by then-Gov. Pete Wilson.
A past president of the Riverside County Bar Association and Riverside County Barristers, Gaut received the Leo A. Deegan Award for excellence in litigation and was listed in Best Lawyers of America in business litigation.
As a justice, he served on the Judicial Council’s Task Force on Civil Jury Instructions, which rewrote civil jury instructions in plain language for use by California judges, and authored a chapter on jury instructions for fraud and deceit in California Forms of Jury Instruction.
“Justice Gaut’s dedication to the court and cooperation with his colleagues have been evident since he began his tenure with Div. Two…,” Ramirez said.
“He came to the court in mid-1997 filling a newly created sixth justice position. At that time the court occupied a building in San Bernardino that had only five judicial chambers. The court was in the process of designing the building it would not occupy until the beginning of 1999.
“Ever the team player, Justice Gaut, along with his judicial assistant and two chambers attorneys, occupied a small conference room without complaint for the first 19 months of his appellate judicial career. He collaborated with his colleagues as they met with the building’s architect in Los Angeles to choose the unique style and character of the new building.
“His new chambers in the state’s first building specifically designed and built as an appellate courthouse were particularly well-deserved for his perseverance in cramped quarters and for his active participation in the building’s design. His colleagues and the entire court staff will miss him but wish him a happy, healthy, and fulfilling retirement.”
Gaut has been married to his wife, Merla, for 42 years. They have four children and six grandchildren.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company