Monday, April 6, 2009
Retired Superior Court Judge James Simpson Dead at 72
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Simpson has died at 72.
The MetNews learned Friday that Simpson passed away last Tuesday. Details were not immediately available.
Simpson was elected to the Glendale Municipal Court in November 1994, received an early appointment to the court from then-Gov. Pete Wilson a month later, served as presiding judge for a time, and was elevated to the Superior Court through unification in 2000. He retired due to disability in December 2001.
Prior to becoming a judge, Simpson served 29 years as a deputy district attorney. He was deputy in charge of municipal courts in the Pasadena office prior to accepting his judicial appointment.
The Los Angeles native had previously served as the district attorney’s deputy in charge in Glendale from 1968 to 1976 and supervised the Narcotics Complaint Section downtown from 1978 to 1984.
Simpson was an honors graduate of Stanford University, earning his degree in 1958. He then served in the Army before gaining his law degree from USC.
He was also involved in community activities in Glendale, where he lived for many years. He was vice president of the local council of the Boy Scouts, served on the board of the Salvation Army, was president of the Glendale Kiwanis Club and Friends of the Airport, and was a city Parks and Recreation commissioner.
His time on the bench was marred by health and ethics problems. In seeking disability retirement, his attorneys said he suffered strokes in 1995 and 1997 and two serious falls in a year. The second fall, in December 2000, caused a shoulder separation requiring surgery, they said.
Simpson took leave of the court after that fall and was expected to return following surgery, but was reportedly persuaded by colleagues to retire.
It was disclosed several months prior to Simpson’s retirement that the Commission on Judicial Performance was investigating charges that he improperly sought to influence other judicial officers in cases involving friends—including the man who had managed his judicial campaign—and that he engaged in bizarre personal behavior at the courthouse, including introducing his dog to juries as the “low-budget bailiff.”
Simpson denied that he intentionally violated any rules, but in 2002, he agreed to be censured by the commission and barred from sitting on assignment. In accepting that agreement, the commission said the judge had acted in bad faith by intervening with two court commissioners and a police officer to help his friends.
A source said burial would be private and that there were no current plans for a public memorial.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company