Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Ninth Circuit Holds Memorial For Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals convened in a special session yesterday in honor of Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall, who died in February at the age of 82.
Held in the en banc courtroom of the Richard H. Chambers U.S. Courthouse in Pasadena, the proceeding drew numerous colleagues and friends of the late jurist, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, court officials said.
Kennedy praised Hall as “a wonderful, dynamic lawyer and judge, and a dear friend,” who was an accomplished photographer. He said visitors to his home, where he displayed a photograph Hall had taken and given him, often mistook it as the work of Ansel Adams.
O’Connor, who graduated a year ahead of Hall at Stanford Law School, described Hall as “a splendid trial judge,” who was “great on the appellate bench,” and “set a superb example for women.”
Ninth Circuit Judge Richard R. Clifton, who filled the seat vacated when Hall took senior status in 1997, remarked that Hall went out of her way to help him learn the ways of the court, and recalled she “had the ability to be blunt and gracious at the same time, and with great humor.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stan Blumenfeld, one of two former law clerks for Hall to speak during the program, said Hall was a great teacher who gave generously of her time and wisdom.”
His clerkship was “an unequaled year of professional development,” Blumenfeld said.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Suzette Clover, another former clerk, reflected on Hall’s resiliency and perseverance, described one instance where Hall presided over a trial despite feeling intensely sick, and learned almost a week later than her appendix had burst.
“She never went down without a fight,” Clover claimed.
Hall ended a long battle with multiple myeloma at her home in Pasadena with her family at her bedside, four days after deciding to forego further treatment and enter hospice care, on February 26.
The only concession she made to her illness during the last year of her life was to participate in oral arguments by video from her chambers rather than travel with the court, officials said.
Hall was appointed to the Ninth Circuit in 1984 by then-President Reagan, after previously serving as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, from 1981 to 1984, and the U.S. Tax Court in Washington, D.C., from 1972 to 1981.
Hall was the fifth woman to be appointed to the court. At the time of her death, she ranked 17th in seniority among the court’s 47 active and senior judges.
Prior to coming onto the bench, she had been in private practice and worked as a trial attorney specializing in tax matters for the U.S. Department of Justice and as a legal advisor to the U.S. Treasury Department.
Hall is survived by her brother, Lowell Holcomb; her daughter, Desma Holcomb, and son, Harris Hall; as well as three grandchildren and several stepchildren and step-grand- children.
Her family has requested that any memorial donations be made to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108, or to St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church, 1175 San Gabriel Blvd., San Marino, CA 91108.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company