Monday, January 23, 2012
Services Pending for Defense Attorney Gigi Gordon
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Services were pending Friday for prominent criminal defense attorney Gigi Gordon, who passed away last week at the age of 54.
Her former husband, Bellflower attorney Andrew M. Stein, said that plans for a funeral service, likely to be private, have not been finalized. A public celebration of Gordon’s life is also in the works, he said.
Gordon, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, died Wednesday. At the time of her death, she was directing attorney of the West Los Angeles–based Post Conviction Assistance Center.
Her nickname with her clientele, Stein related, was “Double G,” but her given name was Gilda.Stein chuckled and said Gordon “hated” that name, and never used it.
He asked that anyone wishing to honor Gordon consider making donations to The National Multiple Sclerosis Society in her name.
Gordon was diagnosed with the disease in 1999, on the eve of her first wedding anniversary, and Stein said she hid the news from most people for years.
The couple wed on Jan. 1, 1998—a mere 19 days after Gordon proposed—in a ceremony presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper, now deceased.
Stein said Gordon picked New Year’s Day “so she wouldn’t forget our anniversary,” since she “wasn’t very good with dates.” The couple divorced in 2008, but remained “on very good terms,” Stein said.
Gordon, her ex-husband recalled, “had two great loves, and unfortunately I’m not one of them, but they were the law and her dogs.”
During Gordon’s lengthy career—which began after her graduation from Southwestern and her admission to the State Bar in 1982—Stein estimated that she was counsel of record in over 20 capital cases, but “she never tried a misdemeanor case in her entire life.”
Gordon’s “first case was a death penalty case, and the last case she ever tried was a death penalty case,” he related.
During trial, Stein said, she subsisted on “coffee, cookies, orange juice and cigarettes,” but she developed a fondness for wine and cheese after being married to him.
He described Gordon as “a fierce warrior” who “changed the criminal justice system in L.A. county.”
Gordon “was single-handedly responsible for ending the D.A.’s use of criminal informants,” Stein said, and was also instrumental in forcing the agency to cease its practice of destroying old files.
Together, he said, they successfully challenged the manner in which the grand jury was selected. Gordon also participated in the investigation of the Rampart scandal.
One of the most important cases to her, Stein said, was the exoneration of a mentally disabled man who was convicted of three murders in 1995. Gordon secured the release of David Allen Jones in 2004, after the victims were tied through DNA evidence to serial killer Chester Turner.
“She set so many people free over the last 15 years,” Stein reflected, but “a lot of what she did was under the radar,” since “she liked it that way.”
For Gordon, “it wasn’t about her, it wasn’t about money…it was about righting wrongs,” and she was “as tough a litigator as ever was,” Stein said.
With her death, “the legal community lost a brilliant mind,” he declared.
“If I die tomorrow, they’ll find someone to try my cases,” Stein said, but Gordon was “one-of-a-kind” and “completely irreplaceable.”
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company