Thursday, March 5, 2009
Services Set for Wardell G. Moss, Retired Municipal Court Judge
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Services are scheduled today for retired Inglewood Municipal Court Judge Wardell G. Moss, who passed away on Friday at the age of 79.
The service will take place at the Angelus Funeral Home Mortuary Chapel located at 3875 South Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles at 1 p.m.
Moss suffered a massive stroke on Thursday evening and passed away in the hospital the next day surrounded by his family, his former colleague Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John V. Meigs said.
Meigs described Moss as “someone that I admired and respected greatly,” whose life experiences had led him to develop “a lot of street sense,” adding that he doubted many people outside of the court knew Moss was a judge.
“He was kind of like an everyman,” Meigs said.
As a jurist, Moss “went that extra mile,” in all his cases, Meigs said, recalling that Moss would personally inspect rental properties in unlawful detainer cases where habitability was an issue.
But Moss was still “always able to handle a very heavy caseload,” Meigs maintained, although he was sometimes criticized for being “too abrupt” because he “didn’t want to hear a lot of superfluous information.”
Meigs formerly worked as a deputy public defender assigned to Moss’ courtroom, and said that he was both aware of Moss’ reputation at the time and worried when Moss called him into chambers the morning after Meigs’ first day in the courtroom.
Moss was “very stern on the bench,” Meigs said, but in chambers, “he told me not to take anything he says on the bench too seriously, then he took me out to lunch.”
The judge “really enjoyed dining,” Meigs continued, and “really considered himself one who trained new lawyers.”
Betty R. Crenshaw, Moss’ younger sister, remembered her brother as “a taskmaster” who “expected perfection out of anybody, even members of his own family.”
When Moss opened his own practice, Crenshaw helped him set the office space up, and “he worked me to death in one weekend,” she recalled with a laugh.
Crenshaw said that the resilient and plucky subject of Frank Sinatra’s song “That’s Life” best described her brother’s personality.
A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Moss moved to Los Angeles with his parents as a child and attended Los Angeles Polytechnic High School, and then college at UCLA. After graduating in 1952, he worked his way through Southwestern University School of Law as a Los Angeles County Deputy Probation Officer.
After earning his law degree in 1961, Moss opened a private practice in Inglewood and conducted mainly criminal defense work until he joined the Los Angeles Public Defender’s office in 1977.
The next year Moss was elected a commissioner of the Inglewood Municipal Court, and in 1980 then-Gov. Jerry Brown appointed him to the municipal court bench where he sat for 18 years.
Moss is survived by his mother Ruth Helen Moss; daughter Dina E. Moss; and sisters, Betty R. Crenshaw, Judy A. Matthews, and Patricia A. Shaw.
His wife Rochelle (Shellie) Moss and son David W. Moss preceded him in death.
The family has requested that condolences be sent to the Angelus Funeral Home.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company