Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, April 27, 2009


Page 3


Services Set for Retired Municipal Court Commissioner Pope


By a MetNews Staff Writer


A memorial service will be held May 9 for retired Southeast Municipal Court Commissioner Charles A. Pope, who died April 1 at age 86.

Pope, who suffered from Parkinsonís disease, retired from the court in 1994 after 19 years of service.

He was a native of Mobile, Ala., but grew up in Milwaukee. He returned to Alabama in 1941 to attend what was then known as Alabama State Teachers College.

After service in the Navy toward the end of World War II, he became a professional boxer, but gave up the sport to return to college. He graduated from Wisconsin State College of Milwaukee, now part of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in 1955.

He then moved to California and taught elementary school for 12 years, first in San Diego and then in Los Angeles. He also attended Southwestern Law School, graduating in 1967.

He once explained to a reporter that he had been a pre-law major at Wisconsin State, but had settled on a teaching career because there were few African American lawyers in Wisconsin and it did not seem likely he could make a living at law practice.

Admitted to the State Bar in 1969, he was with the Public Defenderís Office for 15 months, then joined a small firm on Wilshire Blvd. doing criminal defense, family law, and personal injury work. When he learned of the vacant commissionerís position in South Gate, he once said in an interview, he applied because he was ďa little tired of the rat race,Ē especially after having sometimes had to appear in four different courts on the same day.

The South Gate Municipal Court merged with the San Antonio Municipal Court in Huntington Park to become the two-branch Southeast Municipal Court in 1976.

As a commissioner, he primarily handled traffic and small claims cases, but he handled civil and misdemeanor cases as well.

He also chaired the Board of Directors of the Rakestraw Memorial Education Center in Los Angeles.

Pope is survived by his wife, Bernadine Pope, two daughters, two grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. The May 9 service will be held at 12:30 p.m. at the Knox Presbyterian Church, 5480 La Tierra Blvd., Los Angeles.


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