Thursday, October 15, 2009
Services Set for Retired Superior Court Judge Stanton
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Services have been set for next week in Long Beach for retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John R. Stanton Jr., who died Oct. 7 at the age of 87.
Stanton, a Pasadena native, grew up in Alhambra and attended Pasadena Junior College, joining the service after graduation as a naval aviation cadet. He later flew several missions as a Marine Corps fighter pilot and received a number of decorations, being discharged after World War II with the rank of captain before attending USC Law School.
He opened an office in Alhambra after his admission to practice in 1949, and maintained it until he was appointed to the Alhambra Municipal Court by then-Gov. Pat Brown in December 1966.
He served over 14 years on that court, including seven years as presiding judge. He also served as assistant dean, and then dean, of the California Judicial College and also taught at Northup University School of Law and was a member of the California Judges Association Executive Board.
His elevation to the Superior Court came as a result of a contentious 1980 election requiring a five-way primary, a hotly contested runoff, and a lawsuit that went all the way to the California Supreme Court.
Stanton finished first in the June primary, despite being rated “not qualified” by the County Bar. The evaluating committee attributed the rating to a lack of “temperament or professional ability” sufficient for the position, prompting Stanton—who had reportedly been feuding with the Alhambra court’s other two judges for a couple of years—to hold a press conference accusing the bar panel of relying on “rumors, lies, completely unfounded accusations.”
A May 21, 1980 MetNews editorial entitled “Display of Courage” praised Stanton for having “put the spotlight on the faultiness of the evaluation procedure” in which “an unfair burden is placed...on unfavorably rated candidates who have only broad generalities to answer.”
Since no one received a majority, a runoff between Stanton and then-Los Angeles Municipal Court Judge Malcolm Mackey was scheduled for November. But when the incumbent retired between the primary and general election, the registrar-recorder announced that under the Elections Code, the creation of a vacancy required cancellation of the November vote.
The ensuing litigation resulted in a ruling, by a divided state Supreme Court, that the code provision relied upon by the registrar does not apply if a candidate, other than the vacating incumbent, has already filed nominating papers for the seat. Stanton v. Panish (1980) 28 Cal.3d 107 remains the governing law on the frequently occurring situation of election-year vacancies.
Stanton, who refused to accept contributions from lawyers and spent more than $50,000 of his own money, won the runoff and served on the Superior Court until his retirement in 1988. He then sat periodically on assignment until 2003.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Meredith Stanton, along with their five children—Kathleen, Sharon, John, Patrick and Colleen—and five grandchildren.
A funeral mass is scheduled on Friday, Oct. 23 at 10:30 a.m. at St Bartholomew’s Catholic Church, 5100 East Broadway, Long Beach.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company