Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Services Set for Retired Superior Court Judge Forneret
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Funeral services for retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rodney G. Forneret are scheduled for Thursday.
Forneret lost his battle with leukemia last Wednesday morning. He was 65.
The service will begin at 10 a.m. at his home parish, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, located at 6028 South Victoria Avenue in Los Angeles. It will be followed by tinterment at Holy Cross Cemetery, 5835 West Slauson Avenue in Culver City and a repast at the family home.
There will also be a viewing and Rosary at the church tomorrow, starting at 5:30 p.m., with the Rosary said at 6:30. Following the Rosary there will be time for short remembrances.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations in Forneret’s name be made to St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, where he served as a member of the Parish Council.
Forneret went on medical leave last summer to undergo treatment. His long time judicial secretary Ethel Moody, recalled that before he left, he gave her all his files and said “‘I don’t know when I’m coming back, but I’m coming back.’” Breaking down in tears Moody said, “I never thought he wasn’t coming back, not for one moment.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John V. Meigs, a longtime friend of Forneret, said that “up until the middle of November, we thought he was getting better,” but that Forneret knew the disease was terminal when he retired Dec. 5.
“Basically he retired when he did because he wanted to make certain that his family would have their benefits maximized,” Meigs explained.
Forneret came home from the hospital on Dec. 31, and “it was clear it was just a matter of time,” Meigs said, although he admitted, “I was praying for a miracle.”
A compatible marrow donor had been found, and Forneret was being prepared for a transplant when an infection set in, Meigs said.
His understanding, he said, was that infections often occur in leukemia patients because of their frequent transfusions, and that the infection Forneret developed in November had caused the disease to progress.
Through his friend’s illness, Meigs said that Forneret kept both his spirits and appetite up.
“If there was any weight loss, I didn’t notice it,” he recalled, adding that aside from some loss of hair, Forneret looked the same as he always had.
Forneret was also a devoted family man, caring for his elderly mother after she suffered a stroke despite his own illness and acting as “a second dad” to his nieces and nephews from his brother who predeceased him, Meigs said. “He was just the rock.”
Meigs said the only fault that Forneret had was, “he couldn’t sing, but he liked to.”
His friend had “a
distinctive song voice,” Meigs remembered with a laugh. “Back in college when
we’d sing the fraternity hymn, you knew if he was there.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Eudon Ferrell said he would miss the friendship of his colleague, whom he had known for over 12 years, calling Forneret a “extraordinary individual who was well loved by both staff and judicial officers.”
Ferrell opined that Forneret “simply would be irreplaceable as a judicial officer,” and that the court “really lost a lot of years of expertise, experience and knowledge” with Forneret’s death.
During his 28-year tenure as a judicial officer, Forneret served four terms as presiding judge of the Inglewood Municipal Court before being elevated to the Superior Court by unification in 2000.
He was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 1981, after serving a year as a commissioner in the Compton Municipal Court.
Forneret began his legal career in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office in 1974, where he spent five years before establishing the criminal defense offices of Wilson & Forneret in Compton.
A native of New Orleans, Forneret earned his undergraduate degree in political science from what is now California State University Los Angeles in 1966, served two years in the United States Air Force and then attended Loyola Law School.
The jurist was a vice chair and secretary-treasurer of the now-defunct Presiding Judges Association a founding member of the California Association of Black Lawyers.
He is survived by his wife, Phyllis Forneret, and two daughters.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company