Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Ex-Judicial Candidate Davenport Killed in Plane Crash
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A man killed when his small plane crashed at a golf course in Venice was Robert Ralsey Davenport, a coroner’s spokesperson told the MetNews Friday.
Davenport, 60, was a two-time candidate for Los Angeles Superior Court judge. His single-engine Cessna 152 crashed near the eighth hole at Penmar Golf Course shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday, authorities said.
He was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was in the plane and no other injuries were reported.
The author of several books on celebrity genealogy and film, and most recently of a World War II quiz book, Davenport traced his own ancestry to the Rev. John Davenport, founder of New Haven, Conn., and of Yale College, and claimed to be a fifth cousin, once removed, of actor/director Clint Eastwood.
He ran for open seats on the Superior Court in 2006 and 2008. He was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1988, but took inactive status on Jan. 1, 1989, and did not activate his membership before his first bid for election to the bench.
He received 38 percent of the vote in his first bid for the court, losing to Daniel Lowenthal. In 2008, he received 21 percent, finishing last in a three-way race won by Jared Moses.
His campaigns were controversial, as he was rated “not qualified” by the County Bar, faced questions over his chosen ballot designations, and listed one of his qualifications for office—in a write-up for the League of Women Voters website—as his being the “only Christian running for this office.”
The league subsequently took the page down.
Davenport served on regular active duty with the Navy from 1973 to 1977, followed by inactive duty in the Naval Reserve until 1982 when, according to court documents and military records, he was discharged honorably—but involuntarily—for having twice failed to earn promotion.
Having attended law school at St. John’s University School of Law in Queens, N.Y., and gained a license to practice law in New York in 1980, Davenport began his legal career by serving as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice from 1979 to 1982.
He also attended Harvard Business School from 1982 to 1984, and then sought vocational rehabilitation benefits from the government over a foot disease he claimed to be partially service-related in order to finance his graduate studies in film arts.
The uproar that ensued from resulting litigation was cited in legislative history as the reason Congress amended federal law to define an “employment handicap” as an impairment “resulting in substantial part from a service-connected disability.”
Davenport attended USC and later UCLA, and attained his master’s degree in 1999. He ultimately transitioned into the entertainment industry, taking jobs as an executive vice president, director of business affairs, creative executive, and executive assistant to the chairman.
Commissioned a judge advocate in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1990, Davenport was discharged in 2002 after a panel of officers found that he failed to advise the Army of his prior discharge and to obtain the waiver required when an officer discharged from another service branch seeks an Army Reserve commission.
The discharge was accompanied by other findings of misconduct and was originally labeled as being “under other than honorable conditions,” but was upgraded to honorable by a military review board in 2004.
He was listed on the 2006 ballot as a “Disabled Veteran/Attorney,” after the Registrar-Recorder’s Office rejected proposed designations of “Retired Judge Advocate” and “U.S. Judge Advocate.” In 2008, he sought again to designate himself as a “Retired Judge Advocate,” and then as a “Retired Criminal Prosecutor” when the Registrar-Recorder’s Office denied his original request. Superior Court Judge David P. Yaffe denied his petition for a writ of mandate with respect to the latter designation, and he wound up being listed as a “Lieutenant Colonel/Pilot.”
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